With Novak Djokovic absent from the US Open, Rafael Nadal is aware that he has a great chance to continue climbing up the all-time Grand Slam rankings. The former world No. 1 had a fabulous first part of the season after winning the Australian Open and Roland Garros.
Despite persistent foot pain, the Spanish phenomenon has once again proven that he is a living legend of the sport. The 36-year-old from Manacor also tried to win Wimbledon but a ruptured stomach prevented him from playing the semi-final against Nick Kyrgios.
Rafa missed the Canadian Open as a precaution, while in Cincinnati he couldn’t get past the second round (beaten by Coric in three sets). The 22-time Grand Slam champion is training intensively these days to improve his condition.
The Iberian has always felt great at the tournament in New York, where he has triumphed four times. Speaking to the Tennis Channel, former world No. 1 in doubles Mark Knowles analyzed in detail Nadal’s chances in the Big Apple.
Knowles opens Nadal
“Rafael Nadal knows how to win Majors. He has a great draw early on. Only when Rafa gets a bit of trouble on hard court, it’s early. I like his chances. He has to break in himself,” he said.
Knowles believes the 36-year-old could prevail against the young Spaniard and go all the way given Medvedev have a ‘tricky’ draw and Nick Kyrgios lurking in his group. “He might have Alcaraz if they both go to the semis, I’ll go with experience,” said Knowles.
“Medvedev has a difficult draw depending on what happens in the Nick Kyrgios section. I go with Rafael Nadal on the men’s side.” Nadal has had quite a few problems with his body this year. The 22-time Grand Slam champion won the French Open earlier this year with his ongoing foot problem.
He also had to leave Wimbledon halfway. Now that he’s returned to the US Open, the Spaniard is still worried about the abdominal tear. “(It) is a serious injury because it’s dangerous, it’s risky. When you have a scar, it’s a place where you put a lot of effort when you serve,” he said.
Explaining his injury, the 36-year-old continued: “You need to get flexible again because if you have a scar there (in the beginning) it’s not flexible… The risk of breaking if you make an important movement back there at something that is not as flexible as it used to be, the risk is higher”.