The men’s competition at the U.S. Open has featured many exciting upsets, but Nadal’s absence in the semifinal round will remind fans how much his presence means at the Grand Slams.
With nine players coming back from two sets down to win their first-round matches, the tournament certainly appears as if it will be set for a thrilling finish. Flushing Meadows will certainly be the sight of more intriguing matches, but fans will look back on this tournament and wonder how much different it would have been if Nadal were playing.
The 26-year-old Spaniard is still recovering from tendonitis in his knee and there is no set date for his return to the court.
Nadal has made the semifinal at each of the last four U.S. Opens, winning the competition in 2010 and finishing as the runner-up in 2011. At all four of those tournaments, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer joined Nadal in the semifinal round.
Andy Murray joined men’s tennis’ Big Three in the semis at two of the last four tournaments at Flushing Meadows.
How much does Rafael Nadal's absence affect your interest in the U.S. Open?
The men’s competition is starkly different from the women’s field because there is a significant gap between the top-four players and everybody else.
For the women, each major in the last two years has produced a different winner. For the men, Nadal, Djokovic and Federer have accounted for all Grand Slam wins in the past three years.
Murray has yet to win a major, but he has made it to the semifinal round in six of his last seven slams.
Fans have become accustomed to seeing the four giants of men’s tennis face off in the semifinals. The crowd expects the level of tennis that matchups between these men produce.
Anything less will ultimately be a disappointment, and that is what this tournament is headed towards.
It may not be evident in the third round and quarterfinal matches, but when the field is whittled down to just four players, and Nadal is not there, the lackluster nature of the semifinals will be clear.