Rafael Nadal appointed Stefanos Tsitsipas to replace world number one Carlos Alcaras



Carlos Alcaraz will have a nervous week watching the ATP Finals as Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas attempt to take over the young Spaniard as the men’s world number one at the end of the year. Top-ranked Alcaraz does not have the power to stop his rivals as he is knocked out with an abdominal injury he sustained at the Paris Masters just over a week ago.

Nadal is hoping to shake off the rust he showed in Paris when he lost in his first singles match two months ago after spending time at home in Mallorca with his wife and newborn son. The 36-year-old fell to American man Tommy Paul.

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The surest way for Nadal, who won the Australian and French Open titles in 2022 and is runner-up, to finish first at the end of the year for the sixth time, is to win the title in Turin.

However, he seems uninterested in joining Pete Sampras for second all-time on the year-end number list.

“As I’ve often said, it’s no longer a priority for me, because you need consistency of results which is really only possible for young players,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“And to be honest, I don’t like talking about what could happen in the future.”

Nadal could also top the standings if he wins all three of his matches in the green and reaches the final while Tseptsipas falters.

The third-placed Greek, who is in the red group, needs to win all of their games on their way to the title.

US Open champion Nadal will drop Alcaraz if the Spaniards finish tied on points. Nadal has a better overall record at Grand Slam and Masters tournaments.

Nadal opened his campaign on Sunday against American Taylor Fritz. His other rivals in the group are Norway’s Casper Ruud and in-form Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.

“one last race”

Tsitsipas, who has never been ranked No. 3 before, has a completely different attitude than Nadal.

“The rankings are there for a reason,” he said in August, when he regained third place.

“I think the next step will be the first place, which I hope I can get to one day.”

The 24-year-old has enjoyed a successful year with two titles and five more finals, although a Grand Slam title is still a long way from him.

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If he succeeds in finishing first, he will emulate Chilean Marcelo Rios in 1998 as the only non-Grand Slam player to top the world rankings.

Tsitsipas’s task seems more difficult than that of Nadal, as his group includes two former world No. 1 players, Novak Djokovic and Daniel Medvedev.

Another Russian, sexy mop-haired Andrei Rublev – a quarter-finalist at both the French and US Opens this year – makes up that quartet.

Djokovic hopes his rolling year – from being kicked out of Australia for not being vaccinated against Covid to another Wimbledon summit – will end happily.

The 35-year-old Serbian is aiming to equal retired Roger Federer’s record of six ATP Finals titles.

It would be a “perfect finish,” Djokovic told ATP Media on Friday.

“The cherry on the cake, sure, but it’s a long way to go. It’s a long week.”

“It’s the last week of the year on the Tour, and it’s kind of the last sprint, if you will, for all of us.

“From the very first match you get a very high intensity.”

For Ruud, the finals are an opportunity to capture an important title after losing both the French and US Open finals. He faces additional pressure as his grandmother will be in Turin to watch him.

“They don’t come around often,” Rudd told the ATP website.

“Sometimes they’re a little frustrated with me because I don’t invite them in often.

“They’re adorable, but like all grandmothers, they can be a bit too much sometimes,” he added, smiling.

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