After a series of rather murky status updates, it appears world No. 1 Rafael Nadal is going to test his injured abdomen and pursue his elusive first ATP Finals crown.
According to Nadal, he feels no pain, but is taking a cautious approach. An abdominal injury is no laughing matter for a tennis player no matter how small. It’s worth noting Nadal has qualified and subsequently withdrawn from the ATP Finals six times.
Despite Zverev’s 0-5 record against Nadal, the oddsmakers give him the best chance of any opening round-robin match to pull off an upset, perhaps because he is the defending champion, and Nadal is not 100 percent healthy. Standing 6’6” with a better backhand than forehand, Zverev matches up with the Spaniard as well as anyone could hope, but has lacked the mental fortitude needed to overcome the 19-time Grand Slam champion.
Despite his year-long Top-10 ranking, Zverev has just one Top-10 win in 2019, but he made it count by beating Roger Federer in Shanghai. It’s been a season to forget if you’re judging by Zverev’s lofty standards, but the German finished strong and gave himself a chance at protecting the crucial 1,300 ranking points he earned last year in London.
This is likely Zverev’s best chance to score his first-ever win over Nadal, whose career 82-37 record on indoor hard courts is, statistically speaking, his worst environment—though it’s still solid. Even so, don’t expect the German to pull through on Monday, assuming Nadal’s injury doesn’t come into play.
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