Rafael Nadal on having an opportunity to become world No 1 again: ‘I didn’t expect it’

Rafael Nadal delighted

Rafael Nadal says it “means a lot to have an opportunity” to climb to No 1 in the ATP Rankings again as he thought that particular ship had sailed.

The 22-time Grand Slam winner has a chance to return to the top spot at the Western & Southern Open this week, but of course he needs results to go his way.

Nadal, who will be competing in Cincinnati for the first time since 2017, is currently third in the rankings behind Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev. The Spaniard has points to defend at the ATP Masters 1000 event while Zverev – won the event last year – will miss the defence of his title due to injury. Medvedev, meanwhile, reached the semi-final in 2021.

What it means is if Nadal wins the tournament and Medvedev fails to reach the quarter-final then the 35-year-old will return to the top. The last time the Spaniard was No 1 in the ATP Rankings was in January 2020.

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

“It means a lot to me to have that opportunity [to rise to No. 1]. Something that I didn’t expect could happen again,” the world No 3 said.

“The main thing is to stay healthy and play the events that I want to play. I will not play more than what I believe works well for my body.

“I am going to put all my efforts into every single event I play. It is something that doesn’t matter if I have the chance to be No 1, but I am happy to be in this position and if it happens, I will be very happy.”

Nadal will be playing for the first time since he withdrew from his Wimbledon semi-final clash against Nick Kyrgios in July due an abdominal injury.

He was initially due to make his comeback at the Canadian Open, but pushed it back to the Cincy event as he was not quite yet 100%,

“I hope to be ready,” he said. “Of course, I had a small tear in the abdominal so it’s dangerous. The abdominal is the place that is dangerous because in every serve you put a lot of effort there.

“I need to take things a little bit easier and do the highs the proper way. That’s what I’m trying to do. Try to be a little more conservative but I hope I can be ready to play.”

After the Cincinnati Masters, Nadal hopes to compete at the US Open where he will be gunning for a third Grand Slam this year after winning the Australian Open and French Open. In fact, the Spaniard is yet to lose a match at majors this year and is 20-0 as he never took to court against Kyrgios at Wimbledon.