TURIN (Italy): Félix Auger-Aliassime has left Rafa Nadalthe title hopes to ATP Finals in tatters as he beat the struggling Spaniard 6-3 6-4 in the round robin at the Pala Alpitour stadium on Tuesday.
Nadal must win the year-end title for the first time in his illustrious career to have any chance of preventing his compatriot Carlos Alcaraz to finish the year as world number one, but he faded after an encouraging start.
The 36-year-old second player was beaten by the American Taylor Fritz in their opener on Sunday and are bottom of the Greens group with one game to play against Norway’s Casper Ruud.
Nadal, a 22-time Grand Slam champion, has now lost four straight ATP Tour matches for the first time since 2009.
Canadian Auger-Aliassime, now coached by Nadal’s uncle and long-time mentor Toni, who sat in his dressing room, will face Fritz in his final group match with a chance to advance to the last four.
“I had a game 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 on the pitch.
Nadal sometimes got the upper hand in the first set and twice threatened to break the serve of his opponent, who was beaten by Ruud in his tournament debut on Sunday.
Serving at 3-4, Nadal led 40-0 but a few double faults and some baseline errors allowed Auger-Aliassime to break.
Auger-Aliassime, who has won four titles this season, sealed the first set with a solid hold and took an early lead in the second when Nadal stumbled trying to serve and volley.
Nadal has only played one tournament since the US Open and looked well below his best.
He showed the odd flash of brilliance but couldn’t make an impression as he crumbled to a loss, meaning he’ll be knocked out if Ruud only wins a single set against Fritz later on.
If this happens Alcaraz will be confirmed as the youngest year-end number one since the introduction of the ATP rankings in 1973.

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