Rafa Nadal has been eliminated from the ATP Finals in Turin after a second straight loss and has admitted he will keep fighting to reach his peak level.
Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime charged past Nadal and ended his quest for his first ATP Finals title defeating the Spaniard 6-3, 6-4 in round-robin action at Turin's Pala Alpitour Stadium.
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Nadal previously lost to Taylor Fritz in his opening match and now sits bottom of the group with one match remaining against Norway's Casper Ruud.
However, with Fritz and Ruud going to three sets, Nadal has been eliminated.
The Spaniard's losses have raised alarm bells for tennis experts with the 22-time grand slam champion fading badly in both matches.
Nadal's loss also marks just the second time in his career that he has lost four matches in a row.
However, Nadal hasn't become one of the most popular sport stars ever without humility and his never-say-die attitude.
The 36-year-old made a concerted confession that he might never reach the performance levels that helped him win two grand slams in 2022.
He put this down to his body, age and his situation at home after the birth of his first child with his wife.
But, the Spaniard said he wasn't done with tennis and showed his trademark never-say-die attitude to return to the pinnacle.
"There are a couple of positive things. I was able to play two tournaments in the past three weeks. That's a positive, something that I was not able to do for a while," he said.
"I don't think I forgot how to play tennis, how to be strong enough mentally. I just need to recover all these positive feelings and all this confidence and all this strong mentality that I need to be at the level that I want to be.
"I don't know if I going to reach that level again. But what I don't have any doubt is that I (am) going to die for it."
Fans were quick to throw their support behind Nadal after injuries have curtailed what was a brilliant start to the 2022 season.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) November 15, 2022
These final months of Rafael Nadal's season should serve as a reminder of why the first months (while also coming back from injury) were so remarkable.
— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) November 15, 2022
Nadal will likely never win the ATP Finals and that’s okay, some things are simply not meant to be
That each of the Big 3 still misses one of the six tennis Infinity Stones (four Slams, ATP Finals & singles Olympic gold) humanizes them, in a way
Not everyone can be Andre Agassi
— Bastien Fachan (@BastienFachan) November 15, 2022
Rafael Nadal on why he will never again target YE No. 1:
"My body, my age, my personal situation don't allow me to follow that goal anymore, no?"
"Its difficult fighting against young guys that are super good & at the same time are able to play as many events as they want, no?"
— Musab (@Musab_Abid) November 15, 2022
Rafael Nadal's ability to put things in perspective after a loss continues to amaze.
"I don't think I forget how to play tennis...I just need to recover all these positive feelings & all this confidence & all this strong mentality I need to be at the level that I want to be." pic.twitter.com/iW9vLBvUjF
— Musab (@Musab_Abid) November 15, 2022
We learnt a big lesson about Nadal.
Every single time his career seems to be over, he proves everyone wrong.
The fact he equalled a negative record after 13 long years simply shows how consistent and resilient he's been throughout his career.
Not over until he says it is. pic.twitter.com/2rJjKApehl
— Relevant Tennis (@RelevantTennis) November 15, 2022
Should we get worried for Rafa?
— We Are Tennis (@WeAreTennis) November 15, 2022
Yikes, this is... ugly from Nadal.
Felix set and break up.
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) November 15, 2022
Rafa Nadal exits ATP Finals in Turin
Nadal needs to win the year-end title for the first time in his illustrious career to have a chance of preventing compatriot Carlos Alcaraz from ending the year as world No. 1, but he faded badly after an encouraging start.
Auger-Aliassime, now coached by Nadal's uncle and long-time mentor Toni who sat in his box, will face Fritz in his final group match with a chance of making the last four.
Serving at 3-4 Nadal led 40-0 but a couple of double faults and baseline errors allowed Auger-Aliassime to break.
Auger-Aliassime, who has won four titles this season, sealed the first set with a solid hold and moved a break ahead early in the second.
"I had one match to get used to the conditions and I felt my game was better today, I was hitting it with precision and consistency," Auger-Aliassime said
Nadal won the Australian Open and French Open this year, but has suffered injuries.
Nadal showed the odd flash of brilliance but could make no impression as he slumped to a defeat which means he will be eliminated if Ruud wins just one set against Fritz later.
If that happens Alcaraz will be confirmed as the youngest year-end number one since the ATP rankings were introduced in 1973.
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