What a year 2013 has been for Rafael Nadal.
On Sunday, Nadal dismantled Canadian Milos Raonic (6-2, 6-2) in a little over an hour in front of Robert Bedard, the last Canadian to win the event 55 years ago.
As Barry Flatman of the Sunday Times put it, Nadal's performance was one to reflect on:
The magnificence of Rafa Nadal's performance to win an 8th title of the year in Montreal was, well shall we say, thought provoking.— Barry Flatman (@Barry_FlatmanST) August 11, 2013
With the year Nadal is having, the impressive victory should come as no surprise.
The 27-year-old has bounced back from knee issues in 2013 and remains one of the most difficult outs on a hard court.
That's not an exaggeration. Since February, Nadal has won 48 of 51 matches, notching an eighth French Open title along the way. Not only that, but he has also reached the final in 10 of 11 tournaments he has played in this year.
Perhaps most impressive was Nadal's victory in the semifinals over the world's No. 1-ranked player, Novak Djokovic. It was his second win in three tries against Djokovic, but that does not make taking down the world No. 1 any less impressive.
So where does Nadal go from here? With his 25th Masters title in tow, Nadal is set to move up to No. 3 in the world rankings before setting his sights on the U.S. Open.
Nadal has a wave of momentum he can ride right into the fourth Grand Slam event of the year, where he will be seeking his second title.
However, before Nadal can set foot on the comfortable hard surface in New York, he is currently scheduled to participate in the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio. Another hard surface, the tournament should act as a final tune-up before Nadal looks to the U.S. Open, if he chooses to go, as Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times points out:
Rafael Nadal, if he makes it to Cincinnati, will open against the winner of a match between qualifiers Andujar and Becker. #CincyTennis— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 11, 2013
The road this year has not always been easy for Nadal despite the overwhelming positives. In fact, the Rogers Cup was his first tournament since exiting Wimbledon in the first round back in June.
Is Nadal the favorite entering the U.S. Open?
There is also the injury issue that seemingly hobbled Nadal during the aforementioned Wimbledon loss. The Spaniard looked great throughout the Rogers Cup and particularly in the final round against Raonic, as he kept the first-serve percentage at an even 50.
Even with the minuscule negatives mentioned, Nadal has to be entering the U.S. Open as the favorite. He's easily been the best tennis player in the world in 2013 and it's hard to count him out of any tournament—no matter the surface or location.
Nadal is your Rogers Cup champion. He's lost three matches in 2013. Entering the U.S. Open, other competitors better beware—it's Nadal's year.
Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis: @Chris_Roling.