Cometh the hour, cometh the man—that's certainly what world No. 2 Rafael Nadal will be hoping for.
This year has not been Nadal's best season on tour—he has yet to defeat Novak Djokovic and has been bested by the Serbian in five finals in 2011.
By normal standards, the Spanish superstar's year hasn't been as bad as it may seem—he won his 10th Grand Slam title at Roland Garros in the summer and was a finalist at Wimbledon nearly a month later. Nadal—or more appropriately his fans—would probably admit though that normal standards don't apply to him.
Currently the world No. 1, Novak Djokovic has largely left the rest of tennis in his wake, having lost just once this year and is almost 2,000 points ahead of Rafael Nadal his nearest competitor. In order to close the gap and possibly regain his No. 1 ranking by year's end, Nadal will need to make serious moves in the coming Masters Series events.
Just the one win from four Masters 1000 titles this year constitutes Nadal's poorest start to the season since 2005; and though all hope is not lost, Nadal must grab the opportunities at hand.
Reaching the semifinal and quarterfinal stages in Montreal and Cincinnati respectively in 2010 has left room for the Spaniard to gain important ranking points. Although neither tournament is his favorite, Nadal will be looking to at least improve on 2010's results.
Having lost in the third round in the Shanghai Masters last year, Nadal has another opportunity to gain points on a surface he is quite adept in—as he showed at the World Tour Finals in London. Reaching the finals in 2009, he would back himself to go all the way this time around.
The same holds true for the Paris Masters. Nadal withdrew from this tournament in 2010 citing injury, and so—despite this not being his favorite hard court surface—he would be aiming to at least replicate his 2009 semifinal berth.
The road is certainly not easy—a lackluster start to the season has made it so. Nonetheless, the coming Rogers Cup offers a chance at redemption. Next week in Canada, Rafael Nadal's road to recovery begins.