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ATP Finals: Goffin to grab shock win against fitness worry Nadal

World No 1 Rafael Nadal gets his Tour Finals campaign under way with question marks surrounding his fitness.

The 16-time Grand Slam winner faces David Goffin in the last of the first-round matches on Monday evening just 10 days after withdrawing from the Paris Masters with a knee injury.

Although the top seed sounded positive about his fitness during Friday's press conference, he did little to convince us he will be 100% for the match against Goffin when he said: "If I didn't believe I could be ready for Monday I wouldn't be here. I don't have to make a decision. I'm going to play. That's my feeling today.

"I had problems in Paris a week ago. I go day by day, how I'm feeling. I cannot predict what will happen, but my feeling now is I'm going to play and try my best."

Those are not the words of a player that justifies his status as 3/1 second favourite for a tournament he has never won and on a surface he does not particularly care for. It would not be a surprise if he pulls out of the tournament for a sixth time.

Nadal won both previous meetings with Goffin this year in straight sets, although perhaps we shouldn't read too much into those matches as they took place on his favoured clay surface.

His opponent has won two titles this year and has a 4-4 record against top-10 players this year, beating Dominic Thiem, who is in the same Pete Sampras group, at the Australian Open.

A fully-fit Nadal would probably prove too strong for Goffin and his knee may not prove too much of a problem, but we're going to take a chance on the 26-year-old Belgian to spring a surprise at 14/5.

The opening match of the group sees Grigor Dimitrov take on Dominic Thiem, who goes into the finals on a terrible run of form. The 24-year-old Austrian has reached just one quarter-final since the French Open, although he holds a 2-1 lead over Dimitrov in previous meetings.

Their last match on hardcourts came at the start of the year when the Bulgarian edged a three-setter on his way to winning the Brisbane International, his first title in two-and-a-half years. Two more trophies have come since then and with Thiem out of form, expect Dimitrov to get the job done in straight sets at 23/20.

David Goffin to beat Rafael Nadal @ 14/5

Grigor Dimitrov to beat Dominic Thiem in straight sets @ 23/20

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Warren Barner
@warren_barner in Tennis