Given Novak Djokovic’s absence from the US Open, Rafael Nadal is aware that he has a great chance to stretch further in the all-time Grand Slam standings. The former world number 1 had a fabulous first part of the season, having won the Australian Open and Roland Garros.
Despite persistent foot pain, the Spanish phenomenon has once again proven that he is a living legend of the sport. The 36-year-old from Manacor also tried to win Wimbledon, but an abdominal tear prevented him from playing the semi-final against Nick Kyrgios.
Rafa missed the Canadian Open as a precaution, while in Cincinnati he didn't go beyond the second round (beaten in three sets by Coric). The 22-time Grand Slam champion is training intensely these days to improve his condition.
The Iberian has always had an excellent feeling with the New York tournament, where he has triumphed on four occasions. Speaking to the Tennis Channel, former world number 1 in doubles Mark Knowles analyzed in detail Nadal's chances in the Big Apple.
Knowles opens up on Nadal
"Rafael Nadal knows how to win Majors. He has got a great draw early. Only time Rafa gets in a bit of trouble on hardcourt is early. I like his chances. He has got to play himself in," he said.
Knowles thinks the 36-year-old could prevail over the young Spaniard and go all the way, as Medvedev has a 'tricky' draw, with Nick Kyrgios lurking in his section. "He has got Alcaraz possibly if they both advance to the semifinal, I am going to go with experience," said Knowles.
"Medvedev has got a tricky draw, depending on what happens in the Nick Kyrgios section. I am going with Rafael Nadal on the men's side." Nadal has had a fair share of problems with his body this year. The 22-time Grand Slam champion won the French Open earlier this year with his persistent foot issue.
Further, he had to leave Wimbledon midway. Now that he has returned to the US Open, the Spaniard is still concerned about the abdominal tear. “(It) is a tough injury because it’s dangerous, it’s risky. When you have a scar, it’s a place that you put a lot of effort when you are serving,” he said.
Further, explaining his injury, the 36-year-old said, “You need to find flexibility again because when you have a scar there (at the) beginning it’s not flexible … The risk of breaking when you are doing an important movement back there on a thing that is not flexible like before, the risk is higher”.