The 22-time Grand Slam champion isn’t defending any points the entire rest of the year, and in Cincy next week, a return to the top of the ATP rankings is within reach.
Last week, Rafael Nadal withdrew from Montreal to “give a few more days before starting to compete” after ongoing issues with an abdominal injury that caused his withdrawal from Wimbledon—but this week he announced he’s ready to go.
“Very happy to play again in Cincy,” he posted on Instagram on Wednesday.
“Flying there tomorrow.”
The Masters 1000 event in Canada has always been a happy hunting ground for Nadal. He’s a five-time champion there, a tournament record—he lifted the trophy three times in Montreal (2005, 2013 and 2019) and twice in Toronto (2008 and 2018).
But Nadal has done very well in Cincinnati, too, winning there in 2013—he actually won both Canada and Cincinnati that year, making him just one of four men to complete the Canada-Cincinnati double since Masters 1000 events began in 1990, alongside Andre Agassi (1995), Patrick Rafter (1998) and Andy Roddick (2003).
Nadal has also reached another two semifinals (2008 and 2009) and another four quarterfinals (2006, 2010, 2011 and 2017) in Cincinnati.
And this year, there will be a little bit of extra motivation, too: Nadal has a chance at returning to No. 1 on the ATP rankings in Cincinnati.
If Nadal goes on to win Cincinnati and Daniil Medvedev, the current No. 1, does not reach the quarterfinals, the Spaniard would rise from his current ranking of No. 3 back to No. 1 on Monday, August 22nd, just in time for the US Open seeds.
Of course, with absolutely no points dropping from his ranking the entire rest of the year—he didn’t play after Washington, D.C. last year—the reigning Australian Open and Roland Garros champion is likely to return to the top spot at some point over the next few months anyway, with the two men ahead of him, Medvedev and Alexander Zverev, both dropping upwards of 4,000 points each the rest of the year.
ATP RANKING POINTS GOING INTO CINCINNATI (August 15th, 2022):
No. 1 Medvedev: 6,885 points (dropping 360 points on August 22nd)
No. 2 Zverev: 6,760 points (dropping 1,000 points on August 22nd)
No. 3 Nadal: 5,620 points (not dropping any points on August 22nd)
Nadal is 20-1 on hard courts this year, his lone loss on this surface still being a 6-3, 7-6 (5) defeat at the hands of American No. 1 Taylor Fritz in the Indian Wells final.