Rafael Nadal became the top favorite to become world no. 1 after the US Open when Daniil Medvedev failed to defend the crown and 2000 points. Nadal had a massive lead over Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud early in the tournament, but that wasn’t enough to protect him until the end of the event.
The Spaniard only played one match between Wimbledon and the US Open and it wasn’t enough to find form and recover from an abdominal injury. Nadal notched three wins before losing to Frances Tiafoe 6-4 4-6 6-4 6-3 in the fourth round.
In doing so, the 22-time Major winner jeopardized his chances of becoming world No. 1. 1 for the first time since early 2020. The American overwhelmed the Spaniard in three hours and 34 minutes, playing aggressive tennis and taking crucial points.
The home star cracked 49 winners and 28 unforced errors, delivering five breaks to emerge at the front.
Rafael Nadal failed to ascend the ATP throne at the US Open.
Nadal clinched just two returns and squandered a 3-1 advantage in the fourth set to hit the exit door.
Rafa badly needed this win to put more pressure on Alcaraz and Ruud. Had Nadal advanced to 5990 points for the quarterfinals, it would have taken his rivals to win the title to overtake him and steal the No. 1 spot. 1 Honor from Veteran.
Instead, Rafa stayed at 5810 points and the young guns used their chances with both hands to eliminate him from world No. 1. 1 fight! Playing in his maiden US Open semifinal, Ruud defeated Karen Khachanov 7-6 6-2 5-7 6-2 for his second Major final after Roland Garros in June.
The Norwegian will play against Carlos Alcaraz for the first major crown and the ATP throne on Sunday. The Spanish teenager is in the same position, chasing the first major and hoping to become the youngest-ever world No. 1. 1 since the ATP ranking began in 1973!
Carlos survived three consecutive five-setters to advance to his first Major final, toppling Frances Tiafoe 6-7 6-3 6-1 6-7 6-3 in four hours and 19 minutes. Nadal will remain world No. 1. 3 after the US Open and missed a massive chance to ascend the ATP throne and become the second oldest No. 1 in the world at 36 years and three months.
1 after Roger Federer. Rafa’s last world number. 1 week came during the Australian Open 2020 and it’s hard to expect more opportunities for him for the rest of the season. Nadal said he doesn’t know when he will play again, he is expecting his first child and hopes to heal his injury before returning to the pitch.
The Spaniard has barely won a few ATP titles in the post-US Open era and it’s unrealistic to expect them in the final months of the season, especially on an indoor court. Rafa has won two Major titles this year against all odds but it will be difficult to repeat that in 2023 with so many young players.