Rafael Nadal and David Goffin will be facing each other for the third time in their careers when they wrap up the first two days of round-robin competition at the World Tour Finals on Monday night. Nadal has won both of their previous meetings; 6-3, 6-1 in this season’s Monte-Carlo semifinals and 7-6(3), 6-2 in the Madrid quarters.
For exactly two reasons, Goffin may have a better a chance in this one. First, it is on an indoor hard court instead of on clay. Second, Nadal is likely less than 100 percent due to a knee injury.
That being said, Goffin has dealt with physical problems of his own throughout the second half of 2017. The eighth-ranked Belgian suffered an ankle injury in the third round of the French Open, missed the grass-court swing, and did not post another strong result until reaching round four of the U.S. Open–where a knee issue hobbled him during a straight-set loss to Andrey Rublev. Goffin, though, is an impressive 17-5 this fall with back-to-back titles in Shenzhen and Tokyo.
Few players have a better record this season than Goffin (54-22), but Nadal’s 67-10 mark has helped him clinch the year-end No. 1 ranking heading into London. The Spaniard took all suspense out of that equation when he beat Hyeon Chung in his first match at the Paris Masters. Nadal held off Pablo Cuevas in three sets one day later but then withdrew with his knee problem prior to a scheduled quarterfinal contest against Filip Krajinovic.
With more than a week off before getting things started at the O2 Arena, Nadal is reportedly good to go.
“I hope (I am ready),” Nadal said in between practice sessions in London. “And if I didn’t believe I can be ready, I wouldn’t be here. I’m working every day, practicing well and just trying to be ready for the action…. Being here is an important thing, but for me the most important thing is everything that happened to me this year, the tournaments, competing almost every week with a very competitive level of tennis; being healthy until Paris.”
Goffin is here for the second time after playing one match as a World Tour Finals alternate in 2016, when he replaced Gael Monfils and got blown out by Novak Djokovic 6-1, 6-2. The underdog will be much more competitive on Monday, but another loss is forthcoming if Nadal is close to 100 percent.