New York: World No.1 Rafael Nadal is feeling rested and ready as he looks to defend his US Open title.
A year ago at Flushing Meadows, he mowed down a men’s field that was missing five of the top-ranked 11 men, with Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and 2016 US Open champion Stan Wawrinka among the injured absentees. His brutally one-sided victory over South African Kevin Anderson in his third Grand Slam final of the year gave him a second Major of 2017.
“Last year has been a very special year after a couple of years,” Nadal said here Friday. “2015 was not a positive year in terms of level of tennis, 2016 I was playing good tennis but I got injured. And then I won on the hard courts here. It meant a lot to me.”
This year the men’s field features a full complement of the world’s top-ranked players and seven former US Open champions, but Nadal believes he’s had an ideal build up, starting with a hard court Masters title in Toronto.
“That’s important for the feelings, for the confidence,” Nadal pointed out. “That gave me a chance to rest the week after in Cincinnati. But then I was resting from competing, not resting from working.”
Meanwhile Simona Halep, her No.1 ranking secure and a Grand Slam title on her resume, is riding high heading into the US Open. “I don’t feel the pressure like before,” said the 26-year-old Romanian.
Halep said that her victory in the French Open had helped her relax. “I’m more relaxed. These two were my dreams – to be No.1 and to win a Grand Slam. No.1 ranking without a Grand Slam, means nothing.”
Rafa Nadal with the US Open trophy at Flushing Meadows in 2017