Rafa Nadal eliminated from ATP Finals as Ruud wins, Alcaraz to finish year at number one

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Rafa Nadal eliminated from ATP Finals as Ruud wins, Alcaraz to finish year at number one
Updated
Rafa Nadal said he wasn't sure whether he could return to this level again
Rafa Nadal said he wasn't sure whether he could return to this level again
Reuters
Rafa Nadal (36) was eliminated from the ATP finals after Casper Ruud (23) saw off American Taylor Fritz (25) in their round-robin match in Turin on Tuesday, which also guaranteed that Carlos Alcaraz (19) would end the year as world number one.

Spaniard Nadal needed to win the tournament to take the rankings top spot from compatriot Alcaraz, but straight-set losses to Fritz on Sunday and Felix Auger-Aliassime (22) earlier on Tuesday left him needing Ruud to lose in straight sets to keep his hopes alive.

The Norwegian, however, won the first set 6-3 against Fritz, capitalising on his much improved serve. 

The American did fight back in the second set to win it 6-4, setting up a deciding third set.

Ruud and Fritz went with serve in the third to set up a tense tie-break which the Norwegian held his nerve to win the tie.

Alcaraz, who is not competing at the tournament due to injury, will be confirmed as the youngest year-end number one since the ATP rankings began in 1973.

With his 6-3 6-4 loss to Canada's Auger-Aliassime, the record 22-times Grand Slam champion Nadal has now lost four successive ATP Tour matches for the first time since 2009.

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.

"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.

It was a disappointing display by Nadal who looked rusty having played only one tournament since the US Open.

"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."