Rafael Nadal withdrew from last week’s Rolex Paris Masters prior to his scheduled quarterfinal match against Filip Krajinovic, citing a right-knee injury. Nadal was clearly hobbled during a third-round victory over Pablo Cuevas and there remain concerns that he will be unable to suit up for next week’s World Tour Finals in London.
But there is also some reason for optimism. The world No. 1 practiced in London on Thursday and coach Carlos Moya said his fellow Spaniard will be able to play.
“Rafa is fine; the knee is okay,” Moya assured. “He stopped just to take no risks. Rafa will be competitive in London because it’s the only big tournament he hasn’t won.”
Nadal owns a modest 16-12 lifetime record at the year-end championship, including 12-8 in London (4-4 in two appearances when the event was held in Shanghai). The 16-time Grand Slam champion has twice reached the final, losing to Roger Federer in 2010 and to Novak Djokovic in 2013. Due to physical problems, Nadal played this tournament only twice in a five-year stretch from 2012 through 2016.
He took to Instagram on Thursday, posting a photo his practice at the O2 Arena.
Federer, who split this season’s four Grand Slam titles with Nadal at two apiece, is the obvious favorite heading into London. Nadal would provide some much-needed competition, as Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori, and Milos Raonic are among those already sidelined by injuries. Wawrinka played enough in 2017 to qualify for the World Tour Finals, but he was replaced by No. 9 Jack Sock–the recent Paris Masters champion.
Nadal is in a round-robin group with Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov, and David Goffin. Federer is followed in Group B by Marin Cilic, Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic, and Sock.