Game Game

Nadal says London finals dream never died

Rafael Nadal. PHOTO FILE

PARIS, November 3 – Rafael Nadal confirmed on Tuesday that he has erased all personal doubts concerning his form and never once considered missing the forthcoming World Tour Finals in London.

Nadal cleared the air at the Paris Masters two days after playing the Basel final against Roger Federer, the second final in three events for the Spaniard who has driven his ranking back up to sixth through sheer hard work and determination..

“I always believed that I was going to be in the top eight at the end of the season,” said the seventh seed. “I’m humble enough to say, ‘If I keep playing bad, it’s probably going to be trouble,’ but I had the feeling in some moments that I was going to play better.

“I always thought that I was going to qualify, but a few months ago I was not enjoying (my tennis).”

The hard-working 14-time Grand Slam winner added: “I believe my level is to be there in the top eight, So even if I had the tough moments this year, the year is long, and the normal thing is you have some good weeks to qualify for it (London).”

Nadal has fought his way out of a slump which lasted for well into the second half of the season, coming good with finals in Beijing and Basel and a semi-final in Shanghai over the past month.

But the return of the good times was not easy: “I was not enjoying (being) on court and not feeling myself competitive. The story now is different, I’m enjoying (being) on court,” he explained.

“I don’t have that nerves that I had during the season. Doesn’t matter if I lose, I win, but I am enjoying (being) on court, I am enjoying (being) on (the) practise court, so I’m going to be there (in London)..”

On court in the second round at the final event of the regular ATP season, Nadal’s compatriot David Ferrer won his opening match over Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine 6-2, 6-2.

Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin thrilled a small home crowd on a secondary court in the first round by beating service king Ivo Karlovic in a dramatic 4-6, 7-6 (7/1), 7-6 (7/5) finish.

Karlovic threw down 29 aces and 56 winners on his way to defeat in almost two-and-a quarter hours.

Top seed Novak Djokovic was later putting a 10-match tournament win streak on the line as he opened against Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci in the second round.