At 36 years and three months, Rafael Nadal could claim the ATP throne for the first time since February 2020 after the US Open. 22-time major winner Daniil Medvedev is in the driver’s seat following his fourth round exit to Nick Kyrgios.
Medvedev and Stephen Tsitsipas no. 1 battle, leaving Nadal and two young men at odds. Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud need to reach the final to get past Nadal. The young Spaniard is looking for his first major final while the Norwegian is second behind Roland Garros.
Medvedev felt the pressure from the opening round with 2000 points to defend and four opponents to beat. The Russian lost to Kyrgios in four sets, and Nadal is the favorite to replace him on the ATP throne.
Nadal is the second age no. 1 player, after Roger Federer, who, despite nearly two decades of competition and many injuries and setbacks, remains one of the best players in the world.
Rafael Nadal is well positioned to take the ATP throne.
Rafa made his 16th US Open start with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 win over the world no.
198 Rinky Hijikata. Nadal sealed the deal in three hours and eight minutes after breaking once in the opener. Hijikata got off to a good start but couldn’t maintain that level in sets two, three and four. Nadal broke five times out of ten to advance to the second round for the 16th time in as many trips to New York.
The Spaniard hit 43 winners and 22 unforced errors and should be delighted with his performance in just his second match since Wimbledon. Rafa made another slow start with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 win against Fabio Fognini in the second round in two hours and 43 minutes.
The Italian led 6-2, 4-2 after 68 minutes and decided 16 of the last 19 games before Rafa shifted into high gear. Nadal played better behind the first and second serves and had a 24-point lead over Fognini.
Fabio took 40% of return points and served six service breaks. The Spaniard responded with more than a half on the return point. In the final 100 minutes, he controlled the pace and converted nine of 14 chances to advance to the next round.
Rafa beat Richard Gaschet 6-0, 6-1, 7-5 in New York to reach the Frenchman’s 12th time on tour and his 18th win. Nadal made the difference on his first serve.
He put the pressure on at the other end, saving six of seven breaks. Rafa hit 35 winners and 23 unforced errors, converting more than half of his return points, converting 15 chances into seven breaks.