On verge of returning to No. 1, Rafael Nadal taking it match by match

by: Matt Cronin | August 08, 2017

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The Spaniard will reclaim the top spot if he reaches the semis in Montreal. (AP)

Rafael Nadal can become No. 1 this week if he reaches the semifinals in Montreal, but he says he's just concentrating on the start of the tournament. 

"I don't even think about that now,” Nadal said. “I'm trying to have the right preparation now and that's it. I'm going to keep trying to play the way I did in the first part of the season, so if I'm able to make that happen, I hope to have a chance to do well."

On Aug. 18, 2008, not long after winning his first Wimbledon, the Spaniard became No. 1 for the first time. 

The 31-year-old Nadal had won his first major three years earlier, as just a teenager, at the French Open in 2005. Two months ago, the left-hander won the French Open for a record 10th time, crushing Stan Wawrinka in the final.   

You don’t have to remind Nadal that he’s been in the game for a long time, and has competed against the best of the best for over 15 years.

“Early in my career there was Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, a lot of good players,” Nadal said. “Roger Federer was there, and Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray came a little later. That was a long time ago already, too." 

He isn't surprised that he and the other members of the Big Four are still at the top.

“The only difference is that we're older,” he said. “In the past year-and-a-half, there's been a good new generation that increased the number of top players, but that's sport in general. We love what we are doing. We have the passion to compete and play tennis, so that helps us to be professional and do the right things on and off the court. 

"If you are healthy, it's much easier to keep playing longer. The mental aspect isn't difficult if you love the sport. We're privileged to work for a living at one of our hobbies.”

Nadal was the 2013 champion in Montreal.

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