Rafael Nadal spoke positively about his US Open prospects despite losing his first match since Wimbledon to Borna Coric at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.
The 22-time grand slam champion is back on tour after recovering from the abdominal muscle tear that forced him to pull out ahead of the Wimbledon semi-finals.
Nadal will go into the year’s final grand slam undercooked, though, after a 7-6 (9) 4-6 6-3 defeat by Croatian Coric, who is himself working his way back from long-term injury troubles.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) August 18, 2022
Nadal, who won the first two grand slams of the year to move ahead in the all-time standings, will play in New York for the first time since 2019, when he won his fourth title there.
The Spaniard said: “I’m probably going to do some tests after here to confirm that everything stays the way that we want. I am positive. I was able to have a week of practice here, trying my best every single day, practising much better than the way that I played today, honestly.
“Of course it’s better to win but, at the same time, there remains one week and a half for me before New York. I am sad to not play well here, this tournament is important, but I have to move forward mentally.
— Western & Southern Open (@CincyTennis) August 18, 2022
“In terms of practice, I need to start to be in a grand slam mode, practising the way that I need to practise to be competitive since the beginning there, and I hope I will be able to make that happen.”
Coric, a former world number 12, was sidelined for more than a year after shoulder surgery so a third career victory over Nadal was a huge moment.
The 25-year-old said: “I was out for the last two years. I didn’t play on the big stage and in front of a crowd. I was honestly just looking forward to playing this match. Now obviously that I have won, it’s just kind of crazy.”