Defending champion gets real about what it will take to stop Rafael Nadal.
By Richard Pagliaro

Stefanos Tsitsipas pulled off the great escape to keep his ATP Finals hopes alive.

The defending champion knows he will need more than match-point magic when he faces Rafael Nadal on Thursday with a semifinal spot on the line.

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Andrey Rublev squandered match point shoveling a double fault into net and Tsitsipas pounced on that miscue fighting back for a 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(6) victory to keep his ATP Finals semifinal hopes alive.

The winner of the Nadal-Tsitsipas round-robin match on Thursday will join Dominic Thiem in the semifinals, while the loser goes home.

The sixth-ranked Greek offered an ominous prediction for his rematch with the king of clay: pain and suffering is looming.

"My thoughts? Opportunity for me to fight even harder and give my very best out on the court," Tsitsipas said of facing Nadal. "I know it will require a lot of physical effort, and I'm going to have to go through a lot of pain and suffering, so it is going to be difficult match. Yeah, I'm expecting a fight from my side.

"I really want it a lot… I'm really looking forward on bringing my best tennis out there… It's a great challenge."

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It's a challenge Nadal has met masterfully in the past winning five of six career clashes with the lanky Tsitsipas, including a 6-7(4), 6-4 7-5 triumph in their last meeting in the round-robin stage of the year-end event last year.

Twenty-time Grand Slam champion Nadal is driven to capture the ATP Finals for the first time, while Tsitsipas is pumped to try to defend his title, which should make for shot-making theater on the O2 Arena's blue court. 

"I hope to have my chances. I think I am much more confident now with the level of tennis that I am playing than a couple of days ago," Nadal said. "So I just have the chance to keep going, and that's what I gonna do."

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve
Source: Tennis – Tennis Now