Rafael Nadal will kick off his 16th US Open campaign on Tuesday against wild card Rinky Hijikata. Rafa returns to New York for the first time since 2019, when he dropped Daniil Medvedev in that memorable five-set match. Nadal is the 2nd seed behind Daniil Medvedev and one of the favourites, especially after a relatively easy path to the semi-final.
The Spaniard could become the world number 1 after the US Open for the first time in two and a half years, especially if his main rivals do not reach the final. Rafa is happy with his level on the training court, raising it every day after dealing with an abdominal injury for more than a month.
Nadal made the best start to the season of his career at the Majors after winning the Australian Open and Roland Garros. The Spaniard headed to London with the desire to win the first Wimbledon since 2010. Even so, an abdominal injury prevented him from performing at 100%.
Rafa struggled in the early rounds, unable to impose his shots and earn free points on his serve. Giving his 100%, Nadal overcame injury and Taylor Fritz in an epic quarter-final match that went all the way. Rafa got into his third consecutive Wimbledon semi-final, facing Nick Kyrgios for a spot in the title clash.
Nadal checked his injury and revealed a seven millimeter tear in his muscle, withdrawing from Wimbledon and heading to his home in Mallorca. Rafa returned to the practice court after adequate rest, but continued to feel the pain serving, deciding to miss Montreal.
Rafa Nadal on Djokovic's absence
Novak Djokovic's absence from the 2022 US Open has been the talk of the town over the last few days, but Rafael Nadal feels that shouldn't be the case. "Well, in some way we know that Novak will not play for a while if nothing change in terms of the rules, no? We know that since months ago.
From my personal perspective, is very sad news," he said. "It's always a shame when the best players of the world are not able to play a tournament because of injuries or because of different reasons. Not having one of the best players of the history in the draw of Grand Slam is always an important miss, no? As I said, tough for the fans, tough for the tournament," Nadal said. "In my opinion, tough for the players, too, because we want to have the best field possible."