Rafael Nadal, apart from being an incredible athlete, has always been a great sports fan and at the age of eight he was playing both football and tennis. Two events in particular influenced his final decision. In fact, the Mallorcan listened to his mother's advice and followed Uncle Toni's suggestions, who after his victory in a regional under-12 tournament pushed his nephew to intensify his training on the tennis court and concentrate on a discipline.
When questioned by the numerous fans who had the opportunity to ask his favorite through the US Open's social channels, Nadal revealed a particular backstory. "My mother told me that I couldn't continue playing football, tennis and going to school at the same time.
She told me: 'Choose two, and school has to be one of them'" Nadal, after losing in his debut in the Cincinnati Masters 1000 against Borna Coric, has been training hard for two weeks with the aim of appearing in the best possible conditions in Flushing Meadows.
The Spanish champion will face wild-card Rinky Hijikata in the first round and, if he wins, he will meet one between Fabio Fognini or Aslan Karatsev in the second. The first seed in Nadal's path bears the name and surname of Miomir Kecmanovic; while in the round of 16 he should meet Diego Schwartzman or Frances Tiafoe.
The main contenders to reach the quarter-finals in the same part of the draw as the Spaniard are Andrey Rublev, Denis Shapovalov and Cameron Norrie. All Spanish tennis fans then dream of witnessing a fantastic derby in the semi-finals.
Carlos Alcaraz was framed, along with Nadal, in the lower part of the main draw and dreams of raising the first Grand Slam tournament of his career to heaven. The talented young Spaniard, for his part, could pose his third challenge of the year against Jannik Sinner in the quarters.
Rafael Nadal returns to the US Open
Rafael Nadal returns to the US Open this year for the first time since winning the title in 2019. While the pandemic kept him away in 2020, his chronic foot condition ruled him out last year.
"Well, be focused (and) try to win. You know when you play finals, the feeling before is unique, no? Because you know you are playing for something that's gonna stay for the rest of your career and when you are all walking through the tunnel to go out, you see the stadium packed," Rafael Nadal said.
"The energy that New York brings to you is so, so special, so I (am) in just some way nervous, focused but at the same time, exciting and appreciating the moment," he added.