ATP

I am fighting for it - Nadal still battling for number one spot despite fitness concerns

By Sports Desk November 08, 2019

Rafael Nadal is set on ending 2019 as world number one despite doubts over his fitness heading into the ATP Finals.

Nadal overtook Novak Djokovic atop the ATP rankings on Monday but is still not certain of retaining the position at the end of the year.

Djokovic and Nadal are in opposite groups in London, with the Spaniard to face Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and in-form Daniil Medvedev – who he beat in the US Open final in a five-set epic.

The 33-year-old took to Twitter on Friday to provide an update on his fitness, stating he is "taking it day by day," after he was forced to withdraw from the Paris Masters due to an abdominal tear, though doubt remains as to whether he will be able to participate through the whole tournament in the English capital.

However, Nadal insisted he is still determined to cap off the year at the top of the rankings, should he stay fit.

"Of course I would love to be the year-end number one but I always said it was not my personal goal because I did not follow that [path]," Nadal said in a news conference at the O2.

"If I did, I would be flying to China after New York because I was in a positive position.

"But that doesn't mean I am renouncing to try to be number one. Not at all. I am fighting for it."

Nadal, whose injury has prevented him from practicing, is hopeful of being fully fit for Monday's encounter with defending ATP Finals champion Zverev.

"I'm excited to be here after a couple of years without being able to play. I need to see how things evolve every single day," he said.

"I have good hopes to be 100 per cent ready for Monday. I had been serving very well in Paris, I had good matches, so I am confident that I can be very competitive.

"Of course it's a tournament that you will face the top guys since the beginning so you need to be 100 per cent ready. 

"But I really hope I will be able to serve every single day a little better and my hope is to be on Sunday serving normal."

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    Murray looked set to retire due to injury earlier in the year, but after undergoing successful hip surgery, crowned his return by winning the European Open in Antwerp to claim his 46th ATP Tour title.

    After taking the best part of a month off, Murray will now head to the Davis Cup finals as part of Great Britain's five-man team.

    The 32-year-old intends step things up further in 2020 and the three-time major winner says he would be confident of pushing Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer all the way should he come up against any of the big three.

    "I know if I played against the top players tomorrow there would be a very small chance of me winning that match," Murray told BBC Sport.

    "But I do feel I could win. That's one of the performance goals I want - when I go out on court against all of the players I want to feel like I have a chance of winning.

    "Seven or eight weeks ago I wouldn't have felt that was the case. 

    "If I continued along that path then I wouldn't continue playing. It has been an up and down few years but I feel like I'm coming through the other side of it and I'm excited to see what I can do over the next couple of years.

    "It's difficult to say exactly where I am. I'm not where I was when I was 25 but I don't expect to be and I don't need to be [in order] to be competitive at the highest level and that's why I'm excited.

    "I'm not going to set a target of top 10 or trying to make the semis of a Grand Slam because I've done all of that before and I don't need that.

    "I'm happy just being pain free, healthy and love what I'm doing."

    Murray defeated Stan Wawrinka to clinch the European Open title, while the Scot overcame world number eight Matteo Berrettini on his way to the China Open quarter-finals in Beijing, where he was eventually defeated by Dominic Thiem.

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    The three-time major winner marked his return from career-saving hip surgery by winning his 46th ATP Tour title at the European Open last month.

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