Rafael Nadal ended the season with a win at the ATP Finals. Nadal defeated Casper Ruud 7-5 7-5 in the last round of 16 matches to end his four-match losing streak. In addition, it was Rafa’s first victory as a father, who welcomed his son Rafael in October and needed 40 days to celebrate the first victory with a new member of the family.
Nadal suffered an abdominal injury at Wimbledon, reaching the semi-final before retiring before the clash with Nick Kyrgios. The Spaniard only played one match before the US Open and was unable to play injury-free in New York.
Rafa fell to Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round and was away from the courts for almost two months. Nadal knew that he could not expect much during the indoor tour in Paris and Turin, struggling to find form after such a long break and losing four matches in a row for the first time since 2009.
Rafa fell to Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger-Aliassime in the ATP Finals before facing Casper Ruud in the last meeting of the season. Eager to end the losing streak and gain some momentum heading into 2023, the Spaniard beat the Norwegian 7-5 7-5 in one hour and 42 minutes.
Rafa took advantage of the fast indoor court to fire 16 aces (five in a row, probably for the first time in his career), conceding just 11 points after the initial blow and saving two break points. Casper faced three break points and suffered a break in the closing stages of each set to finish the round 2-1 and advance to the semi-finals for the second year in a row.
Nadal prevailed in the shorter and more advanced rallies, with 37 winners and 16 unforced errors, playing his best match in months. Both players served well in the early stages and made it 4-4 in 32 minutes. Nadal gave up a routine forehand in the ninth game and experienced a breaking point.
He saved it after Ruud’s mistake and denied the second with a service winner for a big serve.
Rafael Nadal on his new experiences as a father
Rafael Nadal recently spoke about his new experiences as a father. “More tired, sleeping less,” Nadal said.
“It’s one more concern in your life. Living it naturally, I’m neither more nor less than any father. With happiness. Trying to make the most of the moments I can be with him. For me is not work, is practice. Just practice, try to make the right plan to be able to stay healthy enough and to stay ready for the beginning of the next season.
How early? I can’t tell you yet because, as you can imagine now, my life changed a little bit. I don’t make unilateral decisions. I need to check a little bit,” Nadal said in a press conference after the match against Ruud.