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“If for some reason that happens, it will be amazing” – Nadal on the possibility of becoming world No 1 again
Nadal plays his first match since pulling out of the Wimbledon semi-finals as he takes on former world No 12 Coric in the second round in Cincinnati on Wednesday
Rafael Nadal started the year having not played in the last four months of the 2021 season. The Spaniard has already had two injury time-outs in 2022 – the first, a six-week break, after the Indian Wells final in March and the second following his withdrawal from Wimbledon in the semi-final stage until this week.
Yet the 36-year-old stands with a shot of becoming the world’s top-ranked player for the first time since January 2020.
Nadal returns to action in Cincinnati this week where he meets Croatian Borna Coric in the second round on Wednesday. If he goes on to win the title and Daniil Medvedev fails to reach the quarter-finals, Nadal will return tot he world No 1 position next week.
“It means a lot to me to have that opportunity, something that I never expected could happen again. But here we are,” Nadal said prior to his first match in Cincinnati, as quoted by the ATP Tour website. “The main thing is to stay healthy and finish the season playing the events that I want to play. I will not play more than what I believe will work well for my body to achieve this goal, but I am going to put all my efforts into every single event that I play. “
“I do that all the time — it doesn’t matter whether I have the chance to be No 1 or not. But I’m happy to be in this privileged position. If for some reason that happens, it will be amazing.”
Nadal is keeping his expectations in check as he returns to the tour this week, saying that he is prepared for things to not go smoothly after an injury layoff.
“One year ago, I didn’t know if I would ever have a chance to come back to Cincinnati,” said Nadal. “Here I am. I’m excited for that. You need to know that when you come back after a while things aren’t going to be better. You can’t expect to play at an amazing level from the beginning. Knowing that, accepting that, you have to be able to be humble enough to fight with the tools that you have at the beginning to win the first match. In the Masters 1000s, the opponents are very demanding from the beginning.”