Rafael Nadal ‘happy to be in Cincy’ as he finds out his path to possible glory at ATP Masters 1000 event

Rafael Nadal in action

Rafael Nadal has touched down in Cincinnati as he prepares to make his comeback at the Western & Southern Open following his latest injury layoff.

The 22-time Grand Slam winner has not featured on the ATP Tour since he pulled out of his Wimbledon semi-final against Nick Kyrgios in early July due to an abdominal injury.

He was initially expected to make his return at the Canadian Open this week, but withdrew on the eve of the tournament as he still had a “slight bother on my abdominal”.

“After speaking with my doctor, we prefer to take things in a conservative way and give (it) a few more days before starting to compete. I would like to thank Eugene (Lapierre), the tournament director, and all his team for understanding and supporting me and this decision,” he said in a statement last week.

The 36-year-old veteran appears to be fully recovered as on Wednesday he confirmed on social media that he is flying to Mason, Ohio, to take part in the final ATP Masters 1000 event of the season in North America.

And he has arrived in the city on Friday evening and later replied to an Instagram from the Western & Southern Open account “happy to be here”.

Nadal, who won the event in 2013, is seeded second for the tournament and will face either Borna Coric or a qualifier in the second round with fellow Spaniard and 15th seed Roberto Bautista Agut a projected third-round opponent.

If he comes through his first two matches then he will face either seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime from Canada or 10th-seeded Italian Jannik Sinner in the quarter-final.

GOAT battle ‘close between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic’, says Tommy Robredo

Rising star and world No 4 Carlos Alcaraz is a projected semi-final opponent, but the third seed will likely have to overcome fifth seed Casper Ruud or ninth seed Cameron Norrie in the quarter-final.

Currently third in the ATP Rankings, Nadal remains in with a chance of finishing the year as the world No 1 as he is 2,255 points behind No 1 Daniil Medvedev.

However, while Medvedev has plenty of points to defend over the next few weeks as he reached the semi-final in Cincinnati last year and also won the US Open champion. Nadal, meanwhile, didn’t play during the second half of the 2021 season due to injury.