ATP Finals: Nadal faces Taylor in 1st round, eyes maiden title

Nadal sustained at Wimbledon and right before the US Open, he welcomed the birth of his first child in October.
Rafael Nadal
Rafael NadalANI

TURIN (ITALY): The 2022 Nitto ATP Finals will begin on Sunday after the pre-tournament extravaganza concluded in Turin. The Pala Alpitour will be ablaze with group-stage action, with Rafael Nadal, the top seed, scheduled to play Taylor Fritz, a tournament debutant, to wrap out the first day.

In the second half of the season, Nadal lost his ATP Tour rhythm for good and bad reasons. Aside from missing time to recover from two abdominal tears, he sustained at Wimbledon and right before the US Open, he welcomed the birth of his first child in October.

He said that he would arrive in Turin early in an effort to regain the top form that saw him open the season with a personal-best 20 straight victories after an early departure at the Rolex Paris Masters. The Spaniard was among the first to start practising in Northern Italy, in fact.

"I'm happy because I've been able to train and I'm excited to play well. If I didn't think I had a chance to fight for what I came for, I wouldn't be here. I think I have a chance," Nadal told in Turin.

He has come to compete for the elusive major championship of his illustrious career. The Nitto ATP Finals runner-up from 2010 and 2013 might win the championship in his 11th appearance at the competition, giving him the year-end No 1 ATP Ranking for the sixth year.

Taylor Fritz, with whom he split two big matches this season, is Nadal's first opponent. In his native Southern California, Fritz prevailed in their first meeting in 2022, using his strong serve and forehand to win the Indian Wells championship with a 6-3, 7-6(5) triumph. Nadal battled through the Wimbledon quarterfinals, winning 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(10-4) despite later having to withdraw due to an abdominal problem.

"Playing Rafa is a big deal. The match we had at Wimbledon was very close. Between the two matches we've played, there were very high highs [after Indian Wells] and very low lows [following Wimbledon]. I'm excited to be opening with him on Sunday night," Fritz said.

After Roland Garros doubles winners Jean-Julien Rojer and Marcelo Arevalo open play against Harri Heliovaara and Lloyd Glasspool, Casper Ruud faces the hot-shot Felix Auger-Aliassime in the afternoon. Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram, the doubles champions from the previous year, will compete against Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos.

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