Rafael Nadal begins the defense of his US Open title with a match against his fellow countryman David Ferrer. In addition to the title, Nadal will also hold on to his No.1 ranking if he makes the semi final – even if Roger Federer is the eventual champion. The top seed is currently slated as second favourite with the bookmakers, with potential quarter-final opponent Novak Djokovic ahead of him.
Ferrer has had a disastrous 2018 and time may well be winding down on his career. He is just 9-17 on the year and comes into the tournament on the back of a four match losing streak to those including Benoit Paire and Bradley Klahn while his only victories since Wimbledon have came against qualifiers. Now outside the top 100, he will need to qualify for the Australian Open unless something extraordinary happens.
Nadal bounced back from the disappointment of his epic Wimbledon semi final loss in some style, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final of the Canada Masters to secure a fifth title on the year. He dropped just one set on the way to the title, to Marin Cilic in the quarter finals. “It’s been a positive year, of course,” Nadal said recently. “Since I came back, I was playing well and winning a lot of matches. Toronto gave me the possibility to rest a little bit. I’m getting a little bit older, as everybody knows.”
“We had some time to go through things when we arrived [last Sunday] in New York and Rafa was already in good shape, it’s a shame the US Open doesn’t start this Sunday, because Rafa has found his form.” Nadal’s coach, Francisco Roig said. Against an opponent he is 24-6 against, Nadal will not need to be at his best. However, the confidence in the team can only mean good things as he looks to close the gap on Federer and his slam titles.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in straight sets