Is Rafael Nadal now the US Open favourite? Tougher tests will follow but he’s withdrawn from 15 of his last 19 hard court events…

I played devils advocate.

I got a bit of stick for it but that’s what you’d expect. Moments off winning in Montreal I said I cannot see Rafael Nadal winning in New York.

15 withdrawals in 19 hard court tournaments since the beginning of 2018 is a concern.

Djokovic is out. That makes it easier.

Tests will get tougher. How much can the knees take?

Federer is out, that’s a surprise!

Have I changed my mind?

No.

Do I think he will win it?

Not sure.

Do I want to be proved wrong?

Of course.

So far, it has been lights out.

I like the phrase ‘lights out’ when it comes describing Rafael Nadal’s tennis but it comes with an issue.

To get to the quarter finals should it have been that intense? We saw it in Melbourne, the lights out tennis and then the slip up in the final…

I do worry going forward into the tournament for Rafa. The fact he has withdrawn from 15 of his last 19 tournaments on hard courts is a worry.

He has even spoken about the need to go for points quicker and make points shorter but is a too intense approach going to cost him?

Maybe I’m sticking my head out a bit but he should walk to the final now. With the greatest of respect to his next opponent Diego Schwartzman and his potential semi-final opponent either Gael Monfils or Matteo Berretini I don’t see a major problem.

Against the three players he has a win/loss record of;

v Schwartzman – 7-0
v Monfils – 14-2 ( Monfils’ wins in Doha in 2009 & 2012 )
v Berrettini – 0-0 ( no meetings yet )

I do expect it to be tougher for Rafa. Having that extra day off following Kokkinakis’ withdrawal has helped but it will be a tough physical test and I expect any of the three to give that test.

We can’t obviously look too far ahead but the biggest test if he gets there will be the final. Medvedev or Dimitrov will be the final appearance if he gets there. He has it on his racket to beat both. Both players for me will have to switch it up a little against Rafa, it has to be quicker.

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