Rafael Nadal is set on ending 2019 as world number one despite doubts over his fitness heading into the ATP Finals.

Nadal overtook Novak Djokovic atop the ATP rankings on Monday but is still not certain of retaining the position at the end of the year.

Djokovic and Nadal are in opposite groups in London, with the Spaniard to face Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and in-form Daniil Medvedev – who he beat in the US Open final in a five-set epic.

The 33-year-old took to Twitter on Friday to provide an update on his fitness, stating he is "taking it day by day," after he was forced to withdraw from the Paris Masters due to an abdominal tear, though doubt remains as to whether he will be able to participate through the whole tournament in the English capital.

However, Nadal insisted he is still determined to cap off the year at the top of the rankings, should he stay fit.

"Of course I would love to be the year-end number one but I always said it was not my personal goal because I did not follow that [path]," Nadal said in a news conference at the O2.

"If I did, I would be flying to China after New York because I was in a positive position.

"But that doesn't mean I am renouncing to try to be number one. Not at all. I am fighting for it."

Nadal, whose injury has prevented him from practicing, is hopeful of being fully fit for Monday's encounter with defending ATP Finals champion Zverev.

"I'm excited to be here after a couple of years without being able to play. I need to see how things evolve every single day," he said.

"I have good hopes to be 100 per cent ready for Monday. I had been serving very well in Paris, I had good matches, so I am confident that I can be very competitive.

"Of course it's a tournament that you will face the top guys since the beginning so you need to be 100 per cent ready. 

"But I really hope I will be able to serve every single day a little better and my hope is to be on Sunday serving normal."

Roger Federer has stuck by his decision to withdraw from the inaugural ATP Cup in order to focus on rest and time with his family ahead of the 2020 season.

Federer was set to lead Switzerland at the new 24-team event, which will take place in Australia in January.

However, the 38-year-old confirmed at the end of October that he would not be taking part in the competition, with Switzerland subsequently withdrawn from contention as a result.

After skipping the Paris Masters, 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer will now look to finish his season on a high in the ATP Finals in London.

He faces world number five Dominic Thiem on Sunday, having lost in the semi-finals to eventual winner Alexander Zverev in 2018.

Ahead of the event, Federer explained he has no regrets about deciding to not push his body too much early on in 2020, allowing him to spend more time with his wife and children.

"Something had to give, that was the ATP Cup," Federer said on media day at the O2 Arena.

"I just felt I was going to be very happy to play but it wasn't that level of importance for me. That was that.

"Normally I don't take these kinds of decisions like this but I kind of got into that situation having to take a decision after Wimbledon. 

"With my wife we try to come up with a really good schedule for the kids. We wanted to be in the same place for a long time. I don't think it's contradictory at all."

Federer conceded he is taking something of a risk by not playing in a warm-up tournament before the Australian Open, but is confident his experience will allow him to cope with the physical demands of heading straight back into a grand slam.

"At the end of the day I think with age and experience I can be confident about what I do in training," Federer said. 

"I'll travel to Melbourne early to make sure I give myself the best chance to get ready. I believe I can be ready, I don't think I need a tonne of matches always, especially on the hard courts.

"Maybe I'm a bit more dependent on the draw earlier on in the Australian Open. The key is health."

After facing Thiem, Federer will also go up against Matteo Berrettini and Novak Djokovic – who was recently dethroned as world number one by Rafael Nadal – in the group stage in London.

Rafael Nadal revealed he has started serving "very slowly" and will "see how things go" as he delivered a mixed injury update ahead of the ATP Finals.

The US Open winner is in London ahead of the year-ending tournament as he recovers from an abdominal tear sustained last Saturday.

Nadal had to pull out of his Paris Masters semi-final against Denis Shapovalov after experiencing discomfort in the warm-up.

He underwent an MRI in Mallorca and declared he was planning to play the ATP Finals on Tuesday.

Nadal still indicated his determination to play in a further update provided on Friday, but explained he was taking things slowly.

He wrote on Twitter: "Update? Ok, I'm in London happy to be here. Taking it day by day after Paris (small abdominal tear).

"I need to see how things go, started serving [on Thursday] very slowly. Right now the main goal is to be ready on Monday following the protocols that the doctor gave me."

Nadal, 33, is a 19-time grand slam champion but has never won the ATP Finals, finishing as runner-up twice. He had to withdraw from last year's event due to another abdominal problem he picked up in Paris.

The Spaniard has been drawn in Group Andre Agassi this year along with Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and 2018 champion Alexander Zverev, who is scheduled to be his first opponent on Monday.

Novak Djokovic will begin the singles tournament with a Group Bjorn Borg match against Matteo Berrettini on Sunday. Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem are the other participants.

Frances Tiafoe and Miomir Kecmanovic sealed their places in the last four of the Next Gen ATP Finals with straight-sets victories on Thursday.

Tiafoe joined Jannik Sinner in progressing from Group B in Milan with a 4-2 4-2 4-2 defeat of Mikael Ymer.

Second seed Tiafoe missed out on a place in the semi-finals of the season-ending event last year when he was beaten by Jaume Munar, but was not to be denied on this occasion.

The American will face top seed Alex de Minaur, who made it three wins out of three in Group A with an emphatic 4-1 4-0 4-2 beating of Casper Ruud.

Tiafoe went on a five-game streak from 2-1 down in the first set against the Swede at Allianz Cloud and never looked back.

The 21-year-old said: "I'm pretty stoked. I needed this. The second half of this season has been rough for me, so every match is an opportunity for me.

"I love this event and I want to stay. The more you win, the longer you can stay, so I'm happy to be in the semis."

Kecmanovic advanced by seeing off Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 4-1 4-1 4-3 (8-6) in just under an hour.

The Serb will take on Sinner, who went down 4-3 (7-5) 3-4 (3-7) 4-2 4-2 to Ugo Humbert in the final round-robin match.

Alex de Minaur made it two wins from two Next Generation ATP Finals matches as he defeated Miomir Kecmanovic on Wednesday, with Jannik Sinner booking a last-four spot.

Australian De Minaur, the highest-ranked player at the event, secured a 4-1 4-3 (7-3) 1-4 4-0 victory to follow up on his opening Group A win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Having been made to work hard for his triumph in Milan, particularly during the second and third sets, the 2018 runner-up was pleased with his powers of recovery.

"This is what you expect in these conditions," said the world number 18, referencing the shorter format. "A match can turn quickly. I didn't play badly, he just played well in the important moments.

"I just had to regroup and stick to my game."

The impressive Sinner was a 4-0 4-2 4-1 winner over Mikael Ymer to ensure he will progress from Group B.

Casper Ruud, who lost his opener to Kecmanovic, inflicted a second consecutive defeat on Davidovich Fokina.

Davidovich Fokina took the first set and went the distance but came up short in a 3-4 (2-7) 4-3 (7-2) 4-2 3-4 (2-7) 4-1 loss to the Norwegian.

In the other Group B clash, Frances Tiafoe recovered from his defeat to Sinner by beating Ugo Humbert, who has now suffered back-to-back reverses.

The American boosted his qualification hopes with a 4-2 4-3 (7-5) 3-4 (4-7) 4-1 success.

Alex de Minaur made it two wins from two Next Generation ATP Finals matches as he defeated Miomir Kecmanovic on Wednesday.

The Australian, the highest-ranked player at the event, secured a 4-1 4-3 (7-3) 1-4 4-0 victory to follow up on his opening Group A win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Having been made to work hard for his triumph in Milan, particularly during the second and third sets, the 2018 runner-up was pleased with his powers of recovery.

"This is what you expect in these conditions," said the world number 18, referencing the shorter format. "A match can turn quickly. I didn't play badly, he just played well in the important moments.

"I just had to regroup and stick to my game."

Casper Ruud, who lost his opener to Kecmanovic, inflicted a second consecutive defeat on Davidovich Fokina.

Davidovich Fokina took the first set and went the distance but came up short in a 3-4 (2-7) 4-3 (7-2) 4-2 3-4 (2-7) 4-1 loss to the Norwegian.

In Group B, Frances Tiafoe recovered from his defeat to Jannik Sinner by beating Ugo Humbert, who has now suffered back-to-back reverses.

The American boosted his qualification hopes with a 4-2 4-3 (7-5) 3-4 (4-7) 4-1 success, while the impressive Sinner thrashed Mikael Ymer 4-0 4-2 4-1.

Next Generation ATP Finals favourite Alex de Minaur started his 2019 campaign with a victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in Milan.

De Minaur lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in last year's final and is the highest-ranked player competing this time around.

The Australian needed four sets to overcome Alejandro Davidovich 4-2 3-4 (5-7) 4-1 4-1 in Group A.

De Minaur, ranked 18th and a three-time winner on the ATP Tour this year, won eight of the final nine games to wrap up the match in style. 

"I just had to get in my head that I played a good second set," said De Minaur. "He just came up with big shots in big moments.

"I had to move on and remember what I was doing well the whole match. I felt a lot more comfortable as soon as I got the break [in the third set]."

In the same pool, Miomir Kecmanovic claimed a straight-sets victory over Casper Ruud.

There was only one break of serve in the whole contest, which the Serbian won 4-3 (7-5) 4-3 (7-5) 4-2.

In Group B, Swede Mikael Ymer sealed a 4-3 (7-2) 1-4 4-2 4-1 triumph over Ugo Humbert, and Jannik Sinner closed Tuesday's play by coming from a set down to beat Frances Tiafoe 3-4 (4-7) 4-2 4-2 4-2.

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will meet in the group stage of the ATP Finals after being drawn together on Tuesday.

The pair have won 36 grand slams between them and triumphed at the season-ending tournament a collective 11 times, with Federer leading that head-to-head tally by one.

Joining the Swiss maestro and Djokovic in Bjorn Borg Group will be Dominic Thiem and Matteo Berrettini.

Andre Agassi Group consists of world number one Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and reigning champion Alexander Zverev.

Nadal had been a doubt for the event after withdrawing ahead of the Paris Masters semi-final with an abdominal injury. 

The year-end number-one spot is up for grabs in London, with Nadal in the driving seat but Djokovic – the winner in Paris – ready to pounce.

Nadal has never won the ATP Finals, while Djokovic's last victory came in 2015 and Federer has endured an eight-year drought. 

Medvedev, Tsitsipas and Berrettini will each compete in the tournament for the first time, with the action scheduled to start on Sunday. 

Rafael Nadal is still hopeful of featuring in the ATP Finals after undergoing an MRI scan on the abdominal injury that forced him to withdraw from the Paris Masters.

Nadal pulled out of his semi-final tie with Denis Shapovalov in Paris on Saturday after experiencing abdominal discomfort in the warm-up.

Yet the Spaniard has provided a positive update on his fitness, revealing he will travel to London for the season-ending event that begins on Sunday.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Nadal said: "Hello everyone. I had an MRI in Mallorca and despite having a small bloating in my right abdominal, I will travel to London.

"The idea is to be able to play the #atpfinals in London. Thanks for the support."

Nadal withdrew from last year's ATP Finals due to an abdominal problem he picked up in Paris.

Despite his injury pull-out last weekend, the 19-time grand slam champion returned to the top of the world rankings on Monday, displacing Novak Djokovic.

Novak Djokovic is under no illusions over the size of the task he faces to claim the year-end number one ranking for the sixth time.

The Serbian beat Denis Shapovalov to seal his fifth Paris Masters title on Sunday, lifting his 34th Masters 1000 trophy in the process.

It kept alive his hopes of beating Rafael Nadal to the summit of the rankings at the end of 2019, but the 16-time grand slam winner knows he cannot afford to relent. 

"That puts me in a better position after this week. But, again, I have to keep on winning," he said after moving 640 points behind the Spaniard ahead of the ATP Finals in London.

"There's always a chance that I win all my matches in London, that I play well. I have done it in the past, and I like playing there. But it's [an] extremely difficult task considering who my opponents are going to be. You're playing a top 10 player every single match.

"So that's a big task on my end that I have to focus on. And as a consequence, if I manage to get the year-end number one, that would be, of course, fantastic."

Nadal withdrew in Paris ahead of his semi-final meeting with Shapovalov, citing an abdominal injury which could yet hamper him in London.

Djokovic was disappointed to see his rival pull out and hopes he is primed and ready to go at the season-ending tournament.

"I'm sad to see that he's injured because that's not what you want to see, not for Rafa, not for any other athlete," he said.

"I know how that feels. Obviously I went through major injuries in my life as well.

"I hope he can recover and compete in London. Because with or without him, obviously, also the battle for number one but also the tournament itself is different. He's a great champion and obviously lots of respect for him."

Novak Djokovic claimed his fifth Paris Masters title on Sunday with a straight-sets victory over Denis Shapovalov.

The number one seed triumphed 6-3 6-4 to lift his 34th Masters 1000 trophy - one short of Rafael Nadal's record haul - and keep alive his challenge to end the year at the top of the ATP rankings.

Having reached his first final at this level after Nadal withdrew from their semi-final with injury, Shapovalov, who lives in Nassau, offered plenty of swashbuckling style but gave up too many free points against a watertight Djokovic display.

The 20-year-old, who has taken only one set in three matches against the 16-time grand-slam champion, won only three of 17 points on his second serve as he lost in 68 minutes.

Shapovalov set about trying to force the ascendancy but two tight forehands when the court was at his mercy gave Djokovic an early break.

The Serbian dropped only four points on serve in the first set and Shapovalov smashed his racquet to the floor when he sent another return long in game seven.

Djokovic served out a clinical opening set with a hold to love and put his opponent under immediate pressure in the second, although Shapovalov dug himself out of a hole with a huge ace.

A terrific Shapovalov passing shot had the crowd on their feet, and he moved 2-1 ahead with a rasping forehand up the line, but he still could not make inroads against the Djokovic serve.

Djokovic was seething when he sent a backhand into the net when given a chance to go 30-0 up on Shapovalov's serve at 3-3, but three errors in succession handed the world number one the crucial break.

A long forehand gave Shapovalov his first break point in the next game, but a timely first serve and a missed backhand from the Canadian saw the opportunity pass him by.

Djokovic eased to three match points and promptly took tour-level title number five of 2019 with a crisp forehand, meaning his battle with Nadal for year-end number one will continue to the ATP Finals in London even though the Spaniard will move top of the rankings on Monday.

Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the Paris Masters, handing Denis Shapovalov a final showdown with Novak Djokovic.

Nadal, who will return to world number one on Monday, had been set to face the Canadian in the semi-final on Saturday.

But the ATP Tour confirmed the Spaniard had pulled out with an abdominal injury sustained during the warm-up.

Nadal said: "In one of the last serves of the warm-ups, I felt something in the abdominal.

"For the rest of the week the things have been positive. I enjoyed a lot playing here in Bercy."

It means Shapovalov will contest his first Masters final, while Djokovic will go in search of a fifth Paris title on Sunday. 

Nadal would have secured top spot in the year-end rankings by winning the tournament. 

Novak Djokovic will have a shot at a fifth Paris Masters title on Sunday after edging out Grigor Dimitrov in a keenly contested last-four clash.

Djokovic prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in a 98-minute encounter that neatly encapsulated the players' careers.

Talent-wise there was nothing between them, Dimitrov happy to trade fierce baseline blows with the world number one only to fall short when it really mattered.

That was particularly evident in the first-set tie-break. Dimitrov led 5-4 with two serves to come only to fire a forehand drive-volley wide at the end of an epic rally.

An unforced forehand error gifted Djokovic set point which he clinched after Dimitrov went long following another gruelling point that lasted 35 strokes.

Djokovic's level never dipped and when he broke for a 3-2 lead in the second the crowd sensed the game was up.

Dimitrov continued to fight but he could not find a way back with Djokovic refusing to yield a single break point opportunity.

The Serbian will next take on either Rafael Nadal or Denis Shapovalov.

Rafael Nadal battled past fan favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to take his place in the semi-finals of the Paris Masters.

Tsonga had displayed fine form in Paris heading into Friday's encounter, but Nadal, who is still yet to win the ATP 1000 event, had too much quality after making the breakthrough in a hard-fought first set.

While Nadal laboured at times, Novak Djokovic, who will relinquish his number one status to the Spaniard next week, had no such issues as he confidently dispatched Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Meanwhile, Matteo Berrettini – who was sent out by Tsonga in the last 32 – clinched the last remaining ATP Finals spot thanks to Denis Shapovalov's straight sets victory over Gael Monfils.

NADAL DIGS DEEP

Nadal twice had to serve to stay in the first set, but having forced the tie-break, a wonderful backhand pass paved the way for him to forge ahead.

With the serve dominating throughout set one, it was Tsonga who blinked first in the second – Nadal taking full advantage of two sloppy shots to secure a first break of the match.

Soon-to-be world number one Nadal had finally hit his stride, playing a sublime through-the-legs shot to further drain Tsonga's confidence.

Despite showing resilience to hold, Tsonga was soon a double-break down, with Nadal wrapping up a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 win when his opponent sent a desperate backhand return into the net.

 

DOMINANT DJOKOVIC HITS TOP GEAR

After struggling with illness in his opening matches, Djokovic was at his irresistible, untouchable best against Tsitsipas, who had no response to lose inside an hour.

A double break early in set one set the tone for Djokovic, who had the opener tied up in his favour inside 29 minutes.

Djokovic took just a minute longer to finish off set two, two more breaks ending any slim hopes of a Tsitsipas comeback before an overhit return from the Greek sealed his progression by an emphatic 6-1 6-2 scoreline.

 

BERRETTINI COMPLETES LONDON FIELD

With defending ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev having claimed his spot at the O2 earlier in the week, there was one place up for grabs heading into Friday's play.

The permutations were simple, with Monfils – ranked 10th in the Race for London – needing a win to take the place of Berrettini.

However, the French number one came unstuck in some style against Shapovalov, who cruised to a 6-2 6-2 triumph, and Berrettini now completes the top eight, alongside Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem, Tsitsipas and Zverev.

 

DIMITROV SWAPS HALLOWEEN TRICKS FOR SEMI-FINAL TREAT

Having already knocked out Thiem, Dimitrov claimed his spot in the last four with a 6-2 7-5 triumph over Cristian Garin, ending an 18-month wait to make a semi-final at ATP 1000 level.

The Bulgarian may have had to give up his Halloween celebrations, but it was a small price to pay.

"[A fantastic week] so far, I've skipped Halloween but it's a better place to be, here on centre court," Dimitrov told Tennis TV.

Halloween may have passed, yet the world number 27 now faces the scary prospect of going up against Djokovic for a place in the final.

Novak Djokovic made a statement of intent at the Paris Masters as he stormed into the semi-finals with a 6-1 6-2 demolition of Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Djokovic will lose his status as world number one to Rafael Nadal next week but put in a rampant performance to which Tsitsipas had little response.

Having succumbed to seventh-ranked Tsitsipas in Shanghai last month, Djokovic took his revenge in supremely confident fashion on Friday.

Djokovic had been under the weather heading into his previous match with Kyle Edmund, yet any doubts over his fitness were swiftly cast aside as a double break put him 4-0 up 18 minutes into the first set.

Tsitsipas clawed back three set points in his next service game, but it merely stalled the inevitable as Djokovic nosed ahead with his fifth chance.

With a sixth Paris semi-final firmly in his sights, four-time champion Djokovic did not let up – successive breaks putting the Serbian into a commanding position at 4-1.

Again, his Greek opponent managed to restore some pride when he held his next serve without conceding a point, but Djokovic had the match wrapped up when a delicate drop-shot forced Tsitsipas into an overhit return.

Gregor Dimitrov, who beat Cristian Garin earlier on Friday, awaits the top seed in the last four.

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