LONDON.- Can you
Rafael Nadal end the season as world number 1? The uncertainty is maximum a few hours after the start of the
London Masters, where its maximum threat
Novak Djokovic, as well as
Roger Federer and a new generation of ambitious young people stalk him.
Forced to leave before the semifinal of the
1000 Masters of Paris A week ago, due to abdominal elongation, Nadal was undecided about his feelings in the English capital. "I don't want to lie to you, I have the confidence that it can go well but I also have the doubt that it can go wrong because the time since what happened in Paris to this day is very short," he said in London, where The eight best players of the year are measured in the Masters since Sunday.
The Mallorcan, 33, arrives with physical doubts at a tournament he has never won. Last year he was forced to resign, and the previous one only played one match in London. "It is clear that I would like to be number 1 (at the end of the season) but that is not my main objective. There are moments in the race where you have to choose goals (…). The challenge is to be able to play 100%" explained the Mallorcan, who will debut on Monday.
Djokovic can match Sampras and Federer
Conversely, Djokovic, surpassed by Nadal in the ranking after the Paris Masters despite his triumph in the tournament, does not hide that the throne of No. 1 is "at the top of his list of goals."
"It is one of the two greatest successes that can be had in this sport along with winning a Grand Slam," added the Serbian, who could become the second player in history to finish six seasons at the top of the ATP after
Pete Sampras (from 1993 to 1998).
The winner of the Australian Open and Wimbledon has 640 points less than Nadal, so he has it within reach in an appointment that awards a maximum of 1500 points. "The classification is not up to me, but I will try to do my best," the Serbian confessed.
Raising for the sixth time the Masters trophy, on Sunday 17, would also allow him to match Roger Federer, who will play his 17th Masters. The two men also meet again in the same group, together with the Austrian
Dominic Thiem, double finalist of Roland Garros and winner of the 1000 Masters of Indian Wells by beating the Swiss in the final.
Matteo Berrettini, revelation of the season and first Italian in the Masters for 41 years, completes the group BjOrn Borg. He will try to honor his brand new entry in the World Top 10 at age 23. Berrettini will open the competition against Djokovic this Sunday, at 11 in Argentina. The day will be completed, at 17 in our country, with the Federer-Thiem clash
In the other group, called Andre Agassi, Rafa Nadal will be accompanied by the Russian
Daniil Medvedev, who before his defeat in the first wheel in Paris, added six consecutive finals (three titles), including an epic at the US Open, lost in five sets against the Spanish. "My compatriot Nikolay Davydenko won the first Masters in London (in 2009, against Federer). I play the last one, in London," he threw in an ironic wink. Starting next year, the tournament will be held in Turin.
The No. 4 in the world appears as a solid aspirant. He will debut on Monday before the Greek
Stefanos Tsitsipas, winner of the first Next Gen tournament, the Masters under 21, last year, and will look for his chance in this traditional event. The last participant will be the German
Alexander Zverev, winner last year, but who will have a difficult time revalidating his crown after a discreet season marked by his personal problems.