Almost 12 months ago Rafael Nadal won the US Open for the third time in his career and the first since 2013. On route to picking up his third title at Flushing Meadows the number one in the world didn’t have to play a top 20 ranked player.
In the semi-finals he did play 24th ranked Juan Martin Del Potro and in the final 28th ranked Kevin Anderson both of whom are having an incredible year on the tour reaching career high rankings.
Now Rafa is back at number one still and despite what happens in Cincinnati where he withdrew from this week number one position will be his with at least a 2500 point lead of Federer if he wins Cincinnati.
Rafa will be the No.1 in the world in New York again but will he be No.1 favourite?
I’m not too sure…
Rafa has played one hard court tournament since Wimbledon and that was last week in Toronto so between the two tournaments took around three weeks off.
We know that the knees and the body doesn’t react to well at this stage of his career to quick court surface changes but on performance based from his week in Toronto where he defeated Wawrinka, Cilic (from a set down) and Tsitsipas in the final.
Looking back at the performances I’d say the week was a good 7/10.
I don’t think he is favourite for win in New York. Despite his title win in Toronto and last year his preparations for New York weren’t great with early exits in Canada and Cincinnati he did go on to win the title.
Minutes after winning in Toronto it was announced that Nadal would not play Cincinnati a move I think is smart. I imagine he and his team looked at what was a gruelling week of tennis and would rather spend time on site at Flushing Meadows early practicing and getting ready for a big fortnight.
Right now I don’t think there is a favourite, the good thing about a major is the day off between matches but I fully expect to see more ruthless Rafa once the tournament kicks off but I do see potential issues and players maybe asking questions of him.