Rafael Nadal admits he ‘never expected’ another shot at world number one
Rafael Nadal is astounded that he could become world number one for a ninth time depending on how he and Daniil Medvedev fair at the Cincinnati Masters.
The 22-time Major champion leads the ATP Race to Turin with 5,630 points and is ranked third in the world behind Alexander Zverev and Medvedev.
However, should Nadal clinch a second career title in Cincinnati and Medvedev fails to reach the quarter-finals, the Spaniard would usurp the Russian as ATP top dog.
“It means a lot to me to have that opportunity, something that I never expected could happen again,” admitted Nadal, who last topped the ATP rankings in February 2020. “But here we are. The main thing is to stay healthy and finish the season playing the events that I want to play.
“I will not play more than what I believe will work well for my body to achieve this goal, but I am going to put all my efforts into every single event that I play.”
Nadal preserving himself has already been demonstrated this week.
He is absent from Spain’s roster for the Davis Cup group stage to be played after the US Open in September.
“I [put in all my effort] all the time, it doesn’t matter whether I have the chance to be number one or not,” Nadal clarified. “But I’m happy to be in this privileged position. If for some reason that happens, it will be amazing.”
Nadal, 36, has had eight stints as world number one, totalling 209 weeks in the top spot.
Moreover, should he reach number one after Cincinnati he would be the second-oldest ATP number one ever behind fellow GOAT contender Roger Federer.
The Swiss was last ranked number one in June 2018 aged 36 years and 10 months.
Returning in Cincinnati after a month and a half without competitive play, Nadal must make it through Borna Coric first.
The two share a 2-2 head-to-head, including an encounter in Cincinnati in 2016, which the Croatian won handily 6-1, 6-3.
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