'I expect to see Rafael Nadal physically healthy', says former ace

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'I expect to see Rafael Nadal physically healthy', says former ace

Rafael Nadal will return to the field this week in Cincinnati, in what will be his first tournament since retiring on the eve of the Wimbledon semi-final. A tear in the abdominals had in fact forced him to give up the match against Nick Kyrgios.

The Spanish champion has admitted that he has not yet completely disposed of the injury, but he is looking forward to getting back in the game and testing himself ahead of the US Open. The second seeded favorite will make his debut on Wednesday night against Borna Coric or Lorenzo Musetti.

The former world number 1 played a fabulous first part of the season, triumphing at the Australian Open and Roland Garros. Despite persistent foot pain, the 36-year-old from Manacor reiterated that he is a living legend. The Iberian thus hoisted himself to 22 Majors, extending over Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in the all-time standings.

The Serbian has shortened the gap by winning at Wimbledon, but he may have to skip the US Open as he is not vaccinated against the Coronavirus. Speaking to the Tennis Channel, Andy Roddick reassured all those fans who are worried about Rafa's physical condition.

Roddick opens up on Nadal

"Props to Rafael Nadal's management for getting him into that Wednesday night timeslot, giving him as much time as possible to get ready and get his practice reps in. But listen, you know Rafa's serious when he arrives at a tournament almost a week in advance to get used to the conditions in Cincinnati," Roddick said.

"I'm sure he's playing practice matches everyday. So, Rafa's not at this point - he would not sacrifice being healthy at the US Open to play in Cincy if he didn't feel like he could out play a healthy match on Wednesday night," he added.

That said, the American reiterated that Nadal would never hamper his US Open participation if he did not fully believe in his recovery from the abdominal tear. "So, I expect to see Rafa physically healthy. Now, the game is a different story, not having played since Wimbledon but I don't see him going out and playing a match in Cincinnati if he's not fully healthy," Roddick said.

"I don't think he would have put the US Open at risk if that was the case." Tennis is a sport of legendary rivalries that brings out the best in players while captivating fans around the globe. There have been several iconic rivalries over the years, and one of the greatest ones in men’s tennis is that of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.