Federer, who kicked off his ATP Finals campaign with a 6-4, 7-6(4) win over Jack Sock on Sunday afternoon, could have kept his chances of ending the year as No. 1 alive had he competed at the Paris Masters two weeks ago.
But the Swiss, who clinched an eighth Basel title last month, pulled out from the final Master 1000 event of the season to rest ahead of the ATP Finals, which allowed Nadal to secure the year-end No. 1 in Paris.
Asked if he had any regrets over that decision and if he wished the top ranking would still be up for grabs this week in London, Federer said: “He (Nadal) was better throughout the year. He played more tournaments. He was incredibly successful throughout. So, no, I don’t have any regrets because I feel like in my stage of my competition, my age, either it comes to me or it doesn’t.
“He had more gas left in the tank than I did. I couldn’t play as much as I’ve wanted, or I overplayed anyway.
“My only regret was I would have loved to be in contention through the Montreal finals, Cincinnati, US Open. But things evaporated very quickly after he won the US Open. That’s when he made his final push, was in Asia. That was it for me really.
“In some ways I’m happy he clinched it because he deserves it. And like this, I can focus on playing the tournament, and not having to talk about that at the same time.
“But, sure, I would have loved to be it, but you can’t be it with that many tournaments, so it’s no problem for me.”
Heading into London, Federer had played 53 matches in 2017 compared to 77 for Nadal. The Swiss has astonishingly lost just four matches this season to record a 92.6 winning percentage.
The 36-year-old is gunning for a seventh ATP Finals trophy this week while Nadal is seeking a first.
The Spaniard told reporters in London on Friday that one of the reasons he has never won the ATP Finals in any of his seven previous appearances is the fact that the tournament is always played on indoor hard courts, which is not his best surface.
Nadal has long voiced his opinion over this subject, and believes the tournament should switch surfaces and locations.
Federer was asked on Sunday if he thought it would be fair if the season finale would take place at least one time on clay – which is Nadal’s favoured surface.
“’Fair’? I’m not sure if it’s the right word,” replied Federer.
“But I think it’s right and fair that it’s indoors, as well. There is no Masters 1000s on grass. There is one Masters 1000 indoors: Paris. So I feel like indoors also deserves its place, you know.
“Could it be switched up to clay once in a while? Yeah, maybe. Could we have more 1000s on grass? Yeah, we could have that, too. Could we have less on clay, more or hard courts? Could we have more or hard courts, less on clay? Yes, it’s all debatable.
“I think it’s not the time of the year for clay, so there you have it,” the world No. 2 added with a smile. “You can do indoor clay, I guess, but that’s a bit silly. But I get his point, and it’s a fair point.”
This is the first time since 2010 that Nadal and Federer are the top two seeds at the ATP Finals.
Nadal begins his assault on a maiden title here on Monday night against David Goffin.
It’s been quite a year…
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) November 12, 2017
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