Rafael Nadal eager to prove himself indoors
Speaking on Friday, he said there were a number of factors for his failure to shine indoors, including fatigue at end-of-season events and a preference for other surfaces.
Rafael Nadal says he is determined to improve his poor record on indoor courts as he bids to win the ATP Finals for the first time in his illustrious career. The Spaniard, whose haul of 86 singles titles includes just one on indoor hard courts, is chasing the biggest prize missing from his resume at the eight-man elite event at London's O2 Arena. Nadal has qualified for the ATP Finals for a record 16 consecutive years but has been forced to withdraw on six occasions. Speaking on Friday, he said there were a number of factors for his failure to shine indoors, including fatigue at end-of-season events and a preference for other surfaces.
"We can find excuses or reasons but at the end of the day the numbers are the numbers," Nadal said. "I think I have played less indoors than in other places without a doubt." The second seed, who drew level with Roger Federer on 20 Grand Slams by winning last month's French Open, said his game was not ideally suited to fast courts.
"The indoor surfaces have been not ideal surfaces for my tennis game since the beginning of my career," said the 34-year-old. "I think I am able to play a little bit better the last couple of years indoors than what I did at the beginning of my career without a doubt but that's the numbers and I can't say something different. I hope to change that this week."
The 50th anniversary of the first staging of the ATP Finals has been marked with the naming of two round-robin groups, Tokyo 1970 and London 2020. Nadal will compete in Group London against defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, US Open champion Dominic Thiem and Andrey Rublev. World number one Novak Djokovic, who is bidding for a record-equalling sixth title, will face Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Diego Schwartzman in Group Tokyo. Nadal opens his title bid on Sunday against Russia's in-form Rublev, who is making his tournament debut.
"I don't know how close I am to the perfect preparation," said the Spaniard, who was beaten by Zverev in the semi-finals of last week's Paris Masters. "I tried to fight hard in every single match in Bercy. That put me in a position that I already played four matches on this surface and hopefully that can help me here." Nadal said the absence of crowds due to the coronavirus pandemic meant conditions would be radically different this year as London prepares to play host for the final time after a 12-year run. "Sad playing with no crowd in this amazing stadium," he said.
"It is something that is not perfect but we can play tennis so we can't complain at all. We are very lucky." He said the experience of playing the finals in the British capital had been "one of the best" but backed the decision to move the tournament to Turin from next year. "I think tennis needs to keep moving," he said. "At the same time it's not fair to finish the world tour finals here without crowds, with this situation but that's the thing that is happening today in this world."
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