An ailing Rafael Nadal admitted he was fortunate to begin his Barclays ATP World Tour Finals campaign with a victory after coming through a near three-hour tussle against competition debutant Mardy Fish in London late last night.
There were question marks over the world number two’s form going into the match – his first since losing to Florian Mayer in Shanghai a month ago – and those remain following a 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7/3) win at the O2.
It was Nadal’s health that was the biggest concern in the third set as he took a lengthy toilet break and continued to look a little green around the gills.
The Spaniard said: “It was a very important victory for me. I think I played a very good first set. The second was hard. I made a big mistake when it was 40-15 for me (in the second game). That gave him a lot of confidence and after that all the match was close.
“The third set was a little bit more crazy, up and down. But I felt very bad in the stomach from the beginning of the third. I was seriously really lucky for the victory.”
Nadal added of his stomach problems: “I feel not very well now. I really need to get back to the hotel and rest a little bit because I played for one hour suffering a lot.”
The Spaniard apologised to Fish and the crowd for his hasty departure from the court, but the American had no complaints. “With him you’re not really going to get anything extra- curricular,” said Fish. “So I just assumed that he wasn’t feeling well. We’ve all been there.”
In the day’s earlier match, Roger Federer also needed three sets to win his opener, seeing off France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.
Scotland’s Andy Murray was due to play his first match this afternoon against Spain’s David Ferrer, while in the night session, Novak Djokovic faces Tomas Berdych.