Rafael Nadal is the only man to win 22 Grand Slams in tennis and will be looking to annex yet another Grand Slam to his tally in September. He has already won four US Open titles and fancies his chances of claiming a record-equaling fifth title in New York.
Should Rafael Nadal be able to achieve the feat, it would mean that he would regain the two-Slam lead over arch-rival Novak Djokovic. Nadal plays Fabio Fognini on Thursday in the second round and on that note, we take a look at three reasons why the 36-year-old Spaniard can win the US Open this year:
Three Reasons Rafael Nadal Can Win the US Open
#1 A depleted field:
Djokovic, who has won the US Open thrice and is probably the greatest hard court player of all time, is not a part of the field in this year’s US Open because he is not vaccinated. He missed the Australian Open earlier this year for the same reason, and Nadal made no mistake in capitalizing on his absence.
Now, a certain player’s absence definitely not guarantee success in a Slam for another player, as one still would have to force one’s way through a 128-strong field to win the title. However, it would certainly make Nadal’s job that bit easier. The fact that Stefanos Tsitsipas, another player ranked inside the Top 5, has been ousted in the first round, makes Nadal’s chances even brighter.
#2 Rafael Nadal is moving well and is not showing any fitness-related problem:
Nadal moved really well in his first round match against Rinky Hijikata and won the match with relative ease after having lost the first set. The good news for Nadal’s fans was that he was moving really well in the match. Hijikata dragged him into the net repeatedly by playing drop shots, but the Spaniard got to the ball on most of the occasions.
To make things better, Nadal hit his forehands, especially down-the-line, really well in the match and was able to dictate terms in most of the rallies as the match progressed. No fitness-related issue resurfaced either for the Spaniard, who had to withdraw from his Wimbledon semifinal against Nick Kyrgios in July.
#3 Nadal’s competitors lack Slam-winning experience:
There is serious lack of Slam-winning experience among the competitors left in the tournament, and that is certainly positive news for Nadal. Daniil Medevdev is the defending champion, but he has only one Grand Slam title to show for thus far. Moreover, Nadal has already beaten him twice this year, including in the epic Australian Open final in January.
Kyrgios, the Wimbledon finalist this year, can be his own worst enemy at times and Matteo Berrettini does not have consistency as one of his biggest strengths. 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz has not yet proven to be consistently successful across the best-of-five format, while someone like Andrey Rublev is yet to win a big title. In fact, Andy Murray is the only other player left in the tournament with multiple Slams, but he is 35 and have had one of his hips replaced already. Hence, Nadal will always be able to bank on his big-match experience as he goes deeper in the tournament.
Main Photo from Getty.