LONDON Ė Belgiumís David Goffin upset the return of Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal, who is getting over a right knee injury, in the ATP Finals being played at Londonís O2 arena on Monday, downing the No. 1-ranked player 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-4 in two hours and 37 minutes in the Pete Sampras Group.
The pain in his knee and the loss led Nadal to announce his withdrawal from the ATP tournament after the match.
Just 24 hours after being honored for being the yearís No. 1 player on the very same central court at the O2 Arena, Nadal went down to defeat on his return to the venue after a two-year absence (his last outing here being the semifinals against Novak Djokovic).
Nadal played in pain, as evidenced at the start of the third set in his facial expression. The knee had bothered him in the Shanghai finals against Switzerlandís Roger Federer and forced him to withdraw from the Paris-Bercy Masters quarterfinals.
His appearance in London had been up in the air, despite the fact that he had confirmed his participation last Wednesday.
Nadal took the court without any bandage to protect his injured tendon, while the seventh-seeded Goffin was wearing protective bandaging on his left knee, and he played well throughout most of the match, despite committing a number of errors.
But in the final minutes of the match, the Spaniardís difficulties became quite evident and he was no longer able to move efficiently around the court.
Despite it all, however, the 16-time grand slam champion stayed on the court until the bitter end, fighting as best he could and working to reduce Goffinís 4-1 advantage in the final set to a less embarrassing 6-4.
After the loss, and before his withdrawal from the tourney, Nadalís participation in the semifinals had been in doubt, given that he was in third place after Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrovís win over Austriaís Dominic Thiem on Monday.