TURIN | He entered this ATP final through the back door, taking advantage of the package of world number 1 Carlos Alcaraz. But on Sunday in Turin, it was American Taylor Fritz who pulled off the day's great feat, beating Spaniard Rafael Nadal 7-6 (3) and 6-1.
All in power, the eighth seed of the competition took only 1 h 37 min to overcome “Rafa”.
A “Rafa” in lack of matches, who has played little – and especially won little – since withdrawing on the eve of the Wimbledon semi-finals in July.
“[Fritz] played unbelievably, praised the Spaniard, favorite of the competition, on Sunday. I played a decent first set, but not the second. »
Imperial in service, the 25-year-old American, who is in his first appearance in the championship at the end of the year, offered no break point to Nadal, the favorite of the competition.
The favorite on paper, at least, because the legend with 22 major titles has never managed to win this tournament, in 10 participations.
And if he hopes to bounce back to reach the four aces, the new dad – of a little boy named… Rafael – recognizes that the conditions are not ideal for him.
< p>Few games played
Since dropping out of the All England Club in July due to an abdominal injury, 36-year-old Nadal has only played seven games, including Sunday's. Four ended in defeats.
“I've been doing good things in training lately, but it's not reflected in my matches,” he said. < /p>
“I need games to regain my confidence,” he added. This is not the ideal tournament nor the ideal time of the season to return to the circuit after a moment of absence. »
There were, however, some spectacular shots in this match, typical of Nadal in the heyday. Like that backhand volley, with Fritz leading 6-5 in the opening set. first innings tie.
The world number 2 – who could finish the year at the top despite this setback – was then unable to counter Fritz's attacks in the second set, even on his own serve. He conceded no less than nine break points, managing to save seven.
And now, Félix
Because of this defeat, Nadal will now find Felix tomorrow. The two players have faced each other on two occasions, each time on clay, the surface of choice for “Rafa”.
Their first confrontation, three years ago, was all in favor of “the ogre of ochre”. The second, at Roland-Garros this year, went to the limit of five sets.
Without dwelling on the challenge that the Quebecer, fifth favorite in Turin, could represent on a Quick covering, the Spaniard highlighted Auger-Aliassime's recent winning streak. conceded Nadal.