“Couple of positive things. I was able to play two tournaments in the past three weeks. That’s the positive thing, something that I was not able to do for a while,” Nadal said. “I don’t think I forgot how to play tennis, how to be strong enough mentally. I just need to recover all these positive feelings and all this confidence and all this strong mentality that I need to be at the level that I want to be.
“I don’t know if I going to reach that level again. But what I don’t have any doubt is that I (am) going to die for it.”
Nadal was beaten by eighth-seeded Fritz of the United States in their opening match on Sunday.
The fifth-seeded Auger-Aliassime also lost his opener, to Ruud, and so Tuesday’s match was crucial to both players’ hopes of staying in the tournament.
The turning point came in the eighth game. Nadal was 40-0 up on his serve but two double-faults and a string of errors handed Auger-Aliassime the first break of the match.
Nadal had already wasted four break points, including two in the first game.
Auger-Aliassime served out for the set and went on to break Nadal’s serve again in the third game of the second set. The Canadian sealed the match at his first opportunity when Nadal hit a return into the net.
“I wasn’t sure If I would be here one day or if I could only dream of it,” said Auger-Aliassime of his first victory over Nadal in three attempts.
“The age difference is huge, and it proves what a champion he is and what an example because he is still here at 36, battling against guys in their young 20s. He is a great champion and has a great attitude.”
Nadal has never won the ATP Finals title in 10 attempts. He finished runner-up in 2010 and 2013.
Nadal needed Fritz to beat Ruud in two sets to have any chance of reaching the semifinals and that hope was dashed when the Norwegian won 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (6).
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