Felix Auger-Aliassime left Rafael 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.
It was a disappointing display by Nadal who looked rusty having played only one tournament since the US Open.
“There are a couple of positive things. I was able to play two tournaments in the past three weeks. That’s a positive, something that I was not able to do for a while,” he said.