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Beaten Rafa is forced out of ATP finals due to injury

By Tom Allnutt

World No.1 Rafa Nadal has been forced to withdraw from the ATP Finals in London after his knee injury flared up in his defeat to Belgium's David Goffin.

The World No.8 claimed a surprise win over the all-conquering Nadal, 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (4-7) 6-4, only for the Spaniard to reveal why he was so off-colour.

"I am off, my season is finished," he said somewhat bluntly.

"I had the commitment with the event, with the city, with myself. I tried hard. I did the thing that I had to do to try to be ready to play.

"But I am really not ready to play. I really (fought) a lot during the match, but knowing that probably was a big chance to be the last match of the season. That's what it is going to be.

"Well, it's not a decision at all. It's about the pain. I cannot hold with enough power to keep playing. I tried, but seriously it was a miracle that the score was very close during the match. It really doesn't make sense."

An emotional Goffin said: "It was a tough fight until the end. Rafa is one of the strongest players mentally on the tour.

"I am so happy to finally find the key to win this match. It is so special to do it here.

"I don't know how I picked myself up after losing the four set points. I had no regrets and I just wanted to keep going and try to enjoy every point.

"I am really proud to be the first Belgian to be here. I see the Belgian flags in the crowd and it is so nice to be here."

Meanwhile, Grigor Dimitrov overcame a bout of beginner's nerves to mark his ATP Finals debut with a three-set win over Dominic Thiem.

Dimitrov surrendered a one-set lead at London's O2 Arena and then needed two chances to serve for victory in the decider before edging past the talented Thiem 6-3 5-7 7-5.

With Andy Murray away injured - and Nadal last night announcing his withdrawal - Roger Federer is the stand-out attraction at this week's tournament, but there may be few contests as entertaining as this one, lasting two hours and 19 minutes.

And after Nadal withdrew after his knee injury flared up last night, Dimitrov could even be a dark horse to top the group.

To do so, he will have to calm his nerves. The 26-year-old is the first Bulgarian qualifier here in the competition's 48-year history and he admitted on court afterwards that he had struggled to handle the pressure.

"I'm not going to lie, I was pretty nervous in my first match out here," Dimitrov said.

"It's not the same as practising on this court, you feel the weight on your shoulders, in a positive way of course. I'm just very grateful to win in that manner. It's not easy playing here for the first time."

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