Rafael Nadal becomes favorite for ATP throne

by   |  VIEW 10733

Rafael Nadal becomes favorite for ATP throne

At 36 years and three months, Rafael Nadal could claim the ATP throne for the first time since February 2020 after the US Open. The 22-time Major winner is in the driving seat following Daniil Medvedev's fourth-round exit to Nick Kyrgios.

Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas have left the no. 1 battle, leaving Nadal and two youngsters in contention. Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud have to reach the final to pass Nadal, with the young Spaniard seeking his first Major final and the Norwegian his second after Roland Garros.

Medvedev felt the pressure from the opening round, having 2000 points to defend and with four rivals looking to topple him. The Russian lost to Kyrgios in four sets, and Nadal is the favorite to replace him on the ATP throne.

Nadal would become the second-oldest no. 1 player after Roger Federer, staying competitive for almost two decades and standing among the world's best players despite numerous injuries and setbacks.

Rafael Nadal is in a good position to take the ATP throne.

Rafa kicked off his 16th US Open with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 triumph over world no.

198 Rinky Hijikata. Nadal sealed the deal in three hours and eight minutes after getting broken once in the opener. Hijikata made an excellent start but could not keep that level in sets two, three and four. Nadal broke him five times from ten opportunities to emerge at the top and move into the second round for the 16th time from as many trips to New York.

The Spaniard hit 43 winners and 22 unforced errors, and he should be pleased with his performance in only the second match after Wimbledon. Rafa made another slow start against Fabio Fognini in the second round before prevailing 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 in two hours and 43 minutes.

The Italian led 6-2, 4-2 after 68 minutes before Rafa shifted into a higher gear and claimed 16 of the final 19 games to seal the deal in under three hours. Nadal played better behind the first and second serve and took 24 points more than Fognini.

Fabio claimed 40% of the return points and delivered six breaks of serve. The Spaniard responded with over half of the return points on his tally. He converted nine out of 14 opportunities to control the pace in the final 100 minutes and move into the next round.

Rafa reached the last 16 for the 12th time in New York following a 6-0, 6-1, 7-5 win over Richard Gasquet, beating the Frenchman for the 18th time from as many duels on the Tour. Nadal made the difference with his first serve.

He defended six out of seven break points and mounted the pressure on the other side. Rafa hit 35 winners and 23 unforced errors, claiming over half of the return points and turning them into seven breaks from 15 opportunities.