Rafael Nadal’s New York state of mind can be summed up in one word: Unsettled.
The much-loved Spanish star has always said the right things, the polite things, the nice things, about his experiences in New York City. But while the U.S. Open has certainly provided Nadal with some spectacular highs, including two championship runs, it has also brutalized him with some searing lows. Just which one he’ll experience this year is one of the most tantalizing questions looming as the tournament approaches.
Nadal was off the tour for over two months following his withdrawal from the French Open with a left wrist injury in late May. He may have taken on an over-sized workload when he returned at the recent Olympic games, competing in singles and doubles (and with the intention of playing mixed doubles) over the cramped course of nine days. The 30-year old King of Clay (and Prince of Grass and Pauper of Indoor Hard Courts) left Rio with a gold in doubles, and he played unsuccessfully for the bronze singles medal.
Nadal’s long absence from the tour, the emotional toll of Olympic competition and his success combined to ensure that Rio was a draining experience. Yet he went immediately to play at the Cincinnati Masters, where he lost in the third round to Borna Coric.
“I think I need to recover emotionally, physically,” Nadal said, “and especially, I need to give some rest to the wrist, the arm, to everything.”
His comments make you wonder why he didn’t just go home, or pull out of Cincinnati, after the Olympic Games. The reason is simple. He wants to maximize his chances at the U.S. Open. And that’s a roll of the die.