Rafael Nadal will play for the first time since he pulled out of Wimbledon at the Cincinnati Masters this week, with the chance of becoming world No. 1.
Nadal withdrew from last week’s Canadian Open in Montreal due to discomfort whilst training but will be back on the tennis court in Cincinnati on Wednesday.
Despite not playing for over a month, Nadal has a chance to return to the top of the ATP rankings, which is currently held by Daniil Medvedev.
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Medvedev enters the tournament on 6,885 points, with Nadal 1,265 points behind. However, the Russian will be defending 360 points, because he made the semi-finals of the Cincinnati Masters last year, whilst Nadal won’t lose anything since he didn’t play in the second half of last season.
It means Medvedev will need to win two matches to ensure he keeps his status as world No. 1.
For Nadal to usurp his rival, he will need to win the tournament, which would give him 1,000 points, and hope Medvedev fails to reach the quarter-finals.
Medvedev’s second round loss to Nick Kyrgios in Montreal has given Nadal an opportunity to head the ATP rankings for the first time since February 2020.
Nadal set to return to US Open
Nadal, who has spent 209 weeks as world No. 1, hasn’t played at Flushing Meadows since he lifted the trophy in 2019 but that is set to change in two weeks’ time.
He withdrew from the event in 2020 due to Covid-19 concerns and an injury to his foot forced him to pull out last year.
Outside of his phenomenal record at the French Open, the US Open has been Nadal’s next most successful Grand Slam as he’s won in New York on four occasions.
Even if he fails to become world No. 1 this week, he will have another big chance to topple Medvedev at the US Open with 2,000 points up for grabs for the champion.
Daniil Medvedev and Rafa Nadal
Image credit: Getty Images
Nadal’s chance to extend lead in ‘GOAT race’
Should he go deep into the Cincinnati Masters, Nadal is expected to not play again prior to the US Open which begins on August 29 in New York.
He has the chance to win a third Grand Slam in this calendar year, something he has only achieved once in his career, in 2010.
It would also help him in the ‘GOAT race’ as the 36-year-old is one ahead of Novak Djokovic on 22 Grand slams to the Serbian’s 21, with Roger Federer on 20.
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Djokovic may not be able to play at Flushing Meadows due to his vaccination status as current rules state non-US citizens and nationals must be fully vaccinated in order to enter the country.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who are responsible for the health and safety of US residents, issued new guidance on Thursday to relax rules regarding social distancing and quarantine which may give Djokovic a chance to play.
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