Rafael Nadal looks to have forgotten about his embarrassing exit at Wimbledon, which bodes well considering the U.S. Open commences in a few weeks.
Nadal recently rolled to victory at the Rogers Cup in Canada, and he didn’t face the easiest of opponents. He defeated Jerzy Janowicz, who made it to the semifinals at Wimbledon, in straight sets in the third round. He rolled over a qualifier in the quarterfinals to set up a must-watch semifinals matchup against Novak Djokovic.
The rivalry between Nadal and Djokovic has been well documented, as they’re two of the best tennis players ever. The only thing that would’ve been better in Montreal was if the two could’ve met in the final, but the semifinal matchup definitely didn’t disappoint. It was a back-and-forth duel, per usual.
Nadal took the opening set without much of a problem, but Djokovic battled back to even things up in the second. The third set was about as good as anyone could’ve written up, as a tiebreak was required to determine which top tennis player would advance to play for the Rogers Cup crown.
In the tiebreak, Nadal went to work and demolished Djokovic. It didn’t take long for the Spaniard to win the title in Canada thereafter, dropping just four games to Milos Raonic in a straight-sets victory. It was the 25th Masters win of Nadal’s career, according to Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times:
The win at the Rogers Cup is one of large proportions for Nadal. While he was victorious at the French Open earlier in the season, he was horrible in the first round at Wimbledon, getting upset by Steve Darcis. It was the earliest exit of his career at a Grand Slam and couldn’t have left a good taste in his mouth.
Nadal has been good at the U.S. Open in recent years, winning in 2010 and reaching the final in 2011, but missed the tournament a year ago due to his knee issues. When he takes the hard court in New York in less than two weeks, it’ll be the first time competing at the Grand Slam since losing in four sets to Djokovic in the final.
While Nadal is one of the best tennis players out there, he still has a lot to prove heading into the U.S. Open. If he fails to make a deep run, some will definitely question whether he has the ability to compete for Grand Slam titles anymore. There’s a chance he does something he hasn’t done since 2005.
If Nadal fails to make it to the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open, he’ll have failed to make it that far in back-to-back Grand Slams for the first time since he exited Wimbledon in the second round and the U.S. Open in the third round back in 2005. But based on how Nadal played in Canada, he seems ready to go far in New York.
The draw for the U.S. Open has yet to be announced—it will be on August 22—but Nadal likely won’t have the easiest path to the title match. There are plenty of contenders who could knock him out easily. But coming off a big victory—which included a win over the No. 1 player in the world—there’s no doubt he’ll be in the mix in the later rounds.
Wimbledon is a thing of the past. This is a refreshed Nadal ready to take down anyone who stands in his path at the U.S. Open. The Rogers Cup proved that.