TURIN, Italy (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal was eliminated from the ATP Finals as Casper Ruud beat American Taylor Fritz in their round-robin match in Turin on Tuesday, which also guaranteed that teenager Carlos Alcaraz would end the year as world number one.
Spaniard Nadal needed to win the tournament to take the rankings top spot from compatriot Alcaraz, but straight-set losses to Fritz on Sunday and Felix Auger-Aliassime earlier on Tuesday left him needing Ruud to lose in straight sets to keep his hopes alive.
The Norwegian, however, won the first set 6-3 against Fritz, capitalizing on his much improved serve.
Fritz responded to take the second and it was anyone’s match in the third-set tiebreak when Ruud let a 5-1 lead slip away and an energized Fritz levelled at 6-6 in their first career meeting.
But Ruud kept his composure and sealed the 6-3 4-6 7-6(6) win on his third match point to reach the semi-finals of the tournament for the second consecutive year.
The 19-year-old Alcaraz, who is not competing at the tournament due to an abdominal injury, will be confirmed as the youngest year-end number one since the ATP rankings began in 1973.
With his 6-3 6-4 loss to Canada’s Auger-Aliassime, the record 22-times Grand Slam champion Nadal has now lost four successive ATP Tour matches for the first time since 2009.
Auger-Aliassime, now coached by Nadal’s uncle and long-time mentor Toni who sat in his box, will face Fritz in his final group match with a chance of making the last four.