Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime crushes Rafael Nadal at ATP Finals

Felix Auger-Aliassime left Rafa Nadal’s title hopes at the ATP Finals in tatters as he beat the struggling Spaniard 6-3 6-4 in round-robin action at the Pala Alpitour Stadium on Tuesday.

Nadal needs to win the year-end title for the first time in his illustrious career to have a chance of preventing compatriot Carlos Alcaraz from ending the year as world number one, but he faded badly after an encouraging start.

The second-ranked 36-year-old was beaten by American Taylor Fritz in his opener on Sunday and is bottom of the Green Group with one match remaining against Norway’s Casper Ruud.

Nadal, the record 22-times Grand Slam champion, has now lost four successive ATP Tour matches for the first time since 2009.

Canada’s Auger-Aliassime, now coached by Nadal’s uncle and long-time mentor Toni who sat in his box, will face Fritz in his final group match with a chance of making the last four.

“I had one match to get used to the conditions and I felt my game was better today, I was hitting it with precision and consistency,” Auger-Aliassime said on court.

Nadal held the upper hand at times in the first set and twice threatened to break the serve of his opponent, who was beaten by Ruud on his tournament debut on Sunday.

Serving at 3-4 Nadal led 40-0 but a couple of double faults and some baseline errors allowed Auger-Aliassime to break.

Auger-Aliassime, who has won four titles this season, sealed the first set with a solid hold and moved a break ahead early in the second when Nadal stumbled trying to serve and volley.

Nadal has played only one tournament since the U.S. Open and looked well below his best.

He showed the odd flash of brilliance but could make no impression as he slumped to a defeat which means he will be eliminated if Ruud wins just one set against Fritz later.

If that happens Alcaraz will be confirmed as the youngest year-end number one since the ATP rankings were introduced in 1973.

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