The 20-time Major winner Rafael Nadal will make his debut in Washington on Wednesday, competing in the American capital for the first time. Nadal hasn't played since the Roland Garros semi-final defeat to Novak Djokovic, suffering his third loss at the beloved Major and taking a break from tennis due to an injury.
The Spaniard opted to skip Wimbledon and the Olympic Games, staying at home in Mallorca and taking the Washington wild card to build momentum ahead of Toronto. On Sunday, Rafa trained on the center court despite the rain, hitting with Grigor Dimitrov and answering some questions once they had to stop.
Asked about Novak Djokovic, Rafa praised his biggest rival and said he can win all four Majors this year. Novak has conquered the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and will be the top favorite at the upcoming US Open in the quest for the first calendar Grand Slam since 1969.
Rafael Nadal spoke about Novak Djokovic's calendar Grand Slam quest.
Djokovic has been a player to beat at Majors this year, and Nadal gave his best to stop him in the semi-final in Paris, only to lose 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 after four hours and 11 minutes!
It was their 58th meeting and 30th victory for Novak over Rafa, determined to beat the Spaniard after five straight losses on the slowest surface. Djokovic hit 50 winners and pushed Nadal's backhand to the limits. He reduced the rival's forehand to forge a massive advantage in the mid-range exchanges and bring the victory home after an epic battle.
Despite a great start, Nadal lost steam in the crucial moments, wasted his chances in the second set's closing stages and squandered a set point on the return at 6-5 in the third before losing the tie break and running out of gas.
Novak was the favorite to claim the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo this weekend, but he suffered a heavy loss to Alexander Zverev in the semis from 6-1, 3-2 lead. "Novak has already won three Majors this year, and I have no doubts that he can claim the fourth.
The US Open is held on hard courts, probably his strongest surface, and there's no reason for him not to try. Of course, it's something difficult. There are going to be other guys that want to win the season's last Major.
Still, Novak is among clear favorites. What he has achieved this year is something amazing. I definitely believe that he can win the fourth Major," Rafael Nadal said.