Nadal collides with a great Fritz in his debut in the Masters Cup

I returned to Rafael Nadal to the circuit, in this last tournament of the year, with a clear lack of competitive rhythm. He has barely played a match since the US Open round of 16, and that was a loss to Tommy Paul in the opening match of the Paris-Bercy Masters 1,000. Hence, the Balearic lowered expectations because he did not arrive in the best version of him at a tournament, moreover, that he has never won. He had, yes, the incentive that he could win his first Masters Cup and, incidentally, sit back on the ATP throne, unseating the injured Carlos Alcaraz. Nevertheless, Taylor Fritz He crossed paths in the first game, always difficult especially on such a fast court, and he took that chance away with a perfect and very focused game.


  • Taylor Fritz
  • 7


  • Rafael Nadal
  • 6


    Nadal begins this tournament of tournaments with a defeat against the American, in two sets, which all counts in this competition; although he can come out with the title on Sunday 20 depending on how the league that he shares, for now, with the aforementioned Fritz and with Casper Ruud and Felix Auger-Aliassime, who opened the 2022 edition of this Masters Cup with victory for the Norwegian by 7-6 (4) and 6-4.

    The Masters Cup is an atypical tournament in everything. Because only the best eight of the year play, so already in the first round you have a top ten rival, because it is played at the end of the season, with all the wear and tear that it entails, because it is indoors and on a fast track and with a format also different from all other ATP competitions. And it is atypical because, after the years in which Roger Federer dominated (six titles, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011; he was a finalist in 2005, 2012, 2014 and 2015) and the following ‘era’ of Novak Djokovic (five titles, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015; finals in 2016 and 2018), other old or new tennis players took the crown without the pedigree of their careers weighing as much as the two mentioned. In 2016, Andy Murray became a master; in 2017, Grigor Dimitrov; in 2018, Alexander Zverev, the only one who has repeated, for the moment, of these new masters (in 2021); in 2019, Stefanos Tsitsipas was crowned, and in 2020, Daniil Medvedev. And there is still an illustrious name left unengraved on the trophy: Nadal’s, who did not start this last exam of 2022 in the best possible way.

    Nadal’s first game was blank; Fritz’s first blank. There was the strategy of each one. Holding on to that service because they already know each other well and there are no double strategies: it is going out to bite from the beginning. Especially since the American has a devastating first blow, so the Spaniard had no choice but to appeal to patience and look for the loophole, earning opportunities little by little. He kept trying every time he had to subtract. In the second game he was able to find some doubts in the world 9, whose hand shook a couple of times when he already seemed to have resolved the point. Nadal is master in that game, although he has never won this tournament.

    But Fritz has also grown, little by little, slowly, forcefully. In this course he won the final of Indian Wells to a depleted Nadal -he was also injured in the ankle-, but he could not with another injured Nadal, in the abdominal, in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. But already in this third match, he knew how to strengthen his serve turns, not fall apart when the Spaniard took impossible hits like a backhand shot and without looking at what he raised to the stands. Tempered and restrainedcontinued to his own, with serves above 215 kilometers per hour to prevent the number 2 in the world from entering devastating mode.

    Very hard from the bottom, he found a hammer on the right (six winners in the first set) and, putting his weapons on the court, in the tie break the head deflected the contest.

    There, surprisingly, Nadal got tangled up, who committed his first double fault in that first inning of the sudden death and the right hand betrayed him in the next point. Fritz, 3-0 in an instant. “Brave,” Francis Roig would say to his pupil. But he wasn’t worth it. The ideas were there, but not the legs or the definition.

    And Fritz continued to subtract viciously towards the feet of the Spanish and getting the staff used to the fact that their serving times were not going to have cracks. Yes, there were on the other side of the network, a Nadal angry at every mistake, and they were more than usual, logical if we think of his last weeks. In only one match since the US Open Round of 16, he loses to Paul in the Paris-Bercy premiere. The American pressed that lack of shooting, those somewhat less awake legs of the Balearic Islands to take the fourth game to the rest, and to confirm the break in the next turn. A 1-4 that lasted more than ten minutes because there were many errors by Nadal, up to six break balls against, and he could not with the seventh.

    And if at any time Fritz could see that lack of forcefulness with the result in favor, it was not this time. Direct kicks, powerful shots and screaming at the Turin court to unleash the adrenaline. Sober victory against Nadal, no less. The Balearic, forced to win on Tuesday against Felix Auger-Aliassime.


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