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Can Rafael Nadal Take Advantage of His Rivals’ Ills to Triumph at the US Open?

Once upon a time, and not that long ago actually, men’s tennis was dominated by the ‘big four.’

That vaunted quartet is still playing at the top level, although it’s questionable how much longer Andy Murray – with a variety of career-extending surgeries already performed – can go on.

Roger Federer, also no stranger to the surgeon’s knife, also continues to battle on, but his straight sets defeat to Hubert Hurkacz at Wimbledon was that of a man whose best days are behind him.

All of which leaves Novak Djokovic, the bookmakers’ favourite to secure a 20th Grand Slam title in their Wimbledon 2021 betting odds, and Rafael Nadal.

Djokovic continues to raise the bar for physical conditioning in elite sport, and the fact that he is able to compete so ferociously in major after major – Wimbledon came just two weeks after the French Open, remember – is a measure of his complete commitment to excellence.

But the Serbian will, presumably, hit a metaphorical wall after competing at the business end of two straight Grand Slams, and so perhaps the door is ajar for Nadal to become the most decorated champion in men’s tennis history at the forthcoming US Open.

Timing is Everything

The wrong side of 30, Nadal knows that he has to look after his body if he is to prolong his career.

It’s no secret that the ongoing battle between the Spaniard, Federer and Djokovic to become the winning-most player in major history is the fuel that drives them all on, and Nadal perhaps did the smart thing in skipping Wimbledon and the Olympic Games this year.

The break will enable him to prepare thoroughly for the US Open, which gets underway at Flushing Meadows on August 30. This is a tournament that Nadal has won on four separate occasions – his best Slam event other than the French Open, and his form on the hard courts of New York has actually improved with time… Two of his titles have come within the past four years.

It’s noteworthy too that the 35-year-old will play in the Citi Open in Washington earlier in August. This is confirmation that he is taking the hard court swing seriously, and the Spaniard will probably stay in the United States for the whole of the month – vital in his preparation for the US Open.

Contrast that to the possible schedule of Djokovic, who has confirmed that he will fly to Tokyo for the Olympics. If he goes all the way to the final, the Serbian will still be in Japan as of August 1, and that would set him back in his preparations for the US Open given the travel and acclimatisation involved.

There are other contenders to consider at Flushing Meadows of course, although the surrendering of Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas in their respective matches at Wimbledon, and the complete loss of form of defending champion Dominic Thiem, suggest that Nadal – available at betting odds of 6/1 – is very much the value play at the US Open.

If he could lift the trophy, it would make the Spaniard the most decorated player in the history of men’s tennis. Few could argue that he doesn’t deserve such an a

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