Question marks ‘hanging over’ Rafael Nadal ahead of Alexander Zverev ATP Finals clash

Rafael Nadal has been warned that he needs to start well at the ATP Finals despite his injury worries coming into the event.

Nadal will play his first match of the tournament against defending champion Alexander Zverev this evening.

But the build-up to the tournament has been dominated by talk of the abdominal injury Nadal suffered at the Paris Masters.

Nadal has steadily increased the intensity of his training in the days leading up to the ATP Finals.

But it is unclear how close to 100 per cent the Spaniard is.

Nadal’s coach Carlos Moya has spoken optimistically about the 33-year-old but the test will come when he steps onto court to face Zverev.

There is also the added factor of the year-end No 1 title which is up for grabs.

Nadal knows that if he reaches the final, he is guaranteed to be the year-end No 1 over Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic must reach the final next Sunday if he is to surpass Nadal and he made a fine start, easing past Matteo Berrettini 6-2 6-1 yesterday.

Speaking ahead of Nadal’s match, Andy Murray’s former coach Miles MacLagan said the 19-time Grand Slam champion will ‘push’ his body as much as he can.

“We were hoping that was somewhat protective,” MacLagan told BBC Radio 5Live Sport.

“He’s had some time to get over it. He’ll need to be fit.

“This is the top eight, you’ve got to hit the ground running. There’s obviously a lot on the line, there’s that No 1 ranking still to play for. So he’ll want to push himself but that’s the question still hanging over Rafael Nadal.”

Despite MacLagan’s comments, Nadal gave a determined response to the concerns surrounding his health.

“To play here is always a very special thing. [I’m] excited to be back here in London in one of the great events of the year,” Nadal said on Friday.

“I’m going to try my best to keep producing chances to compete well, and if I’m competing well, I’m playing at my best, I hope to have my chances to have a good result.”

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