By Ros Satar, at the O2, London

  • Rafael Nadal bids to win the World Tour Finals for the first time
  • Withdrew from the Paris Masters head of his quarter-final with a knee injury
LONDON, UK – Rafael Nadal tried to play down his knee injury concerns ahead of the start of the Nitto ATP World Tour final, which start on Sunday.

 

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World No. 1 Rafael Nadal played down concerns that his bid to win the one big title that has eluded him would be hampered by the knee injury that caused him to pull out of the Paris Masters.

Speaking at the pre-tournament press conference, he declared that just by being in London, he was ready to play.

“If I didn’t believe I was I wasn’t ready for Monday I wouldn’t be here. What can happen in a couple of days I cannot predict. My feeling now is, I am here to play and give myself the best chance.”

There was earlier confusion following the draw earlier in the week when originally it was announced that Group Sampras, with Nadal, would lead off the tournament on the Sunday, before Roger Federer posted on Twitter that he would be playing on the Sunday.

It will indeed be Group Becker that starts with Roger Federer playing the opening singles match on Sunday’s day session. For a player that has been known for playing even the points of his practices with all the power and intensity of his matches, even Nadal had to admit that time had caught up with him.

“No, I am not giving 100 percent in all my practices in all the year. I am not practising the way I did at 21 years old. It’s a different way of practice, not that same intensity. Still high intensity for my standard, but different from 10 years ago

“I just played one hour yesterday, two hours today, I am taking care.”

 

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Rafael Nadal US Open 2017 Champion, Flushing Meadows, New York

Photo by Mike Frey/BPI/REX/Shutterstock | Rafael Nadal US Open 2017 Champion, Flushing Meadows, New York

With all four Slams being shared between Nadal and Federer this year, with the year starting off with a Slam final between the pair that many thought they would never see again, he was asked whether perhaps there would be any extra spice to the proceedings if the year could be seen out with another titanic battle between them.

In an enduring rivalry that dates all the way to the Miami Masters in 2004, Nadal denied that he needed the boost by beating Federer here on a surface that clearly favours the Swiss.

The Spaniard leads their head to head 23-15, but is the wrong end of a five-match losing streak, four of those in finals, and three from this year alone.

“I don’t need to beat Roger to be more confident. I won enough to be confident. If I play him here it would be great to finish the year playing against him again, to give me another chance. But that’s it. We cannot forget that we played four times in places that he likes more than me. Just accept that and find different ways to approach that match.”

Nadal will open his campaign on Monday night against World Tour Finals newcomer, David Goffin.

Main image: Martin Cole/ProSports/REX/Shutterstock

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