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Rafa admits he may be ‘too fresh’ for US Open

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:41

He may have outdone even his own expectations since returning to the tour this month, but Rafael Nadal was quick to play down his US Open prospects yesterday, admitting that he still isn’t in peak condition.

The world No.3 returned to action in Montreal after more than two months on the sidelines recovering from tendinitis in both knees. After reaching the Rogers Cup quarter-finals, he went one better in Cincinnati, losing to Novak Djokovic in the final four.

And now, with the last major of the year starting on Monday, Nadal will be bidding to land the US Open title after adding the Australian Open title to his Wimbledon victory and four Roland Garros crowns.

“Well, I am No. 3 in the world. And the No. 3 in the world should have a chance to win, no?” Nadal told reporters at the Nike US Open kit launch on Wednesday. “But I don’t know if I arrive in best condition.”

“I don’t know if I arrive in best condition”

“In New York I’ve never played at my best, that’s true,” he added. “Last year I did semi-finals – maybe last year was an opportunity for me to win this tournament, but I arrived too tired after a long season.

“This year I arrive, sure, fresher than ever, but I don’t know if that’s too fresh.”

However, he admitted feeling “much better” both physically and mentally than he had before Wimbledon.

The Spaniard believes the tendinitis would have had a bearing on his performance as both an impediment and a distraction, as he found himself thinking too much about his knees following his shock French Open fourth-round defeat to Robin Soderling.

“After an injury, sure, you think a little bit,” he said Wednesday. “But I am much better, I feel.”

Nadal reached the the semifinals at the US Open last year, and would love to complete his career slam, as Roger Federer did in his absence by winning his first French Open crown.

“It’s very special,” said Nadal. “I’ve won the other three, so if I win that it’s going to be a complete cycle,” he said. “It will be amazing.”

Nadal and Federer were joined by fellow Nike-sponsored players Gael Monfils, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Na Li and veteran tennis legend, New Yorker John McEnroe as each – including McEnroe – showcased their kits for the US Open.

Hitting tennis balls for charity on a makeshift court on Broadway in the middle of Manhattan, Federer wore a Subway-inspired red shirt with black trim, while Serena’s pink dress is infused with New York’s cocktail-party culture, while Nadal’s yellow and blue outfit is based on the city’s famous yellow cabs.

McEnroe MC’d the event, interviewing players about their views on the attire and prospects at Flushing Meadows. When asked about his own opinions on the front runners for this year’s men’s US Open, the four-time champion admitted that only two names stuck out – those of the top two seeds.

“It’s hard to pick anyone but Federer the way he’s going,” said McEnroe, “but there’s some hungry guys out there. This should be Murray’s time to step up.”

And despite the pick, the American had a word of warning for Federer as he enters the latter stages of his career – not least since the birth of his twin daughters.

“[Federer’s] running on adrenaline right now,” added McEnroe. “Maybe he’ll be able to get through the Open, but I think he’s human – if you hit his arm, at some stage he’ll cut a little bit.

“He’s played superhuman for a while, but you think at some point down the road – a couple of months, six months – that it’s going to get trickier.”

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