Rafael Nadal has announced that he will be playing next week’s Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, less than a week after withdrawing from the Montreal Masters due to his ongoing abdominal injury. The world No 4’s last-minute decision to play at the Masters serves as a big hint that he will be back to his best self in time for the US Open after withdrawing from Wimbledon with an abdominal tear last month.
Nadal has announced that he will be flying to Cincinnati on Friday to compete in next week’s Western and Southern Open ahead of the final Grand Slam of the year. The world No 4 appeared in doubt for the US Open when he pulled out of this week’s Montreal Masters just six days ago, revealing he had felt some discomfort with the abdominal injury that forced him to pull out of Wimbledon.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion had initially hoped to be back in time for the Canadian Open when he withdrew from Wimbledon on the eve of his semi-final against Nick Kyrgios, claiming that he looked set to resume his intended schedule of playing in Montreal before the US Open, and skipping the Cincinnati Masters. But he suffered a setback and was forced to pull out of this week’s tournament after confirming he was feeling “discomfort” after re-introducing serves into his practice sessions.
Nadal has now made a U-turn and announced his last-minute decision to compete in Cincinnati, taking to his Instagram story to share a photo of himself with the caption: “[plane emoji] tomorrow to Cincinnati. Very happy to play again in Cincy.”
It will be the first time in five years that Nadal has competed in Cincinnati, as he ended his season with injury last year, did not compete in 2020 during the pandemic, and in 2019 and 2018 opted to only play in Canada. The 36-year-old’s announcement is a positive boost to his US Open chances, indicating that he has already shown huge improvement in the six days since withdrawing from Montreal.
Nadal was spotted tentatively practising his service motion earlier this week at his Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor – the first time he re-introduced the shot after it caused a setback last week. He previously explained it would take extra time to start serving again due to his injury, planning to return to hitting from the baseline a week after Wimbledon before bringing back the serve.
“In one week I going to be able to play from the baseline. Not serving for a while, of course. Playing from the baseline not going to be a big deal,” he explained while announcing his withdrawal from Wimbledon.
Nadal will then return to the US Open for the first time since he won the title back in 2019. The world No 4 opted not to play in 2020 over concerns amid the pandemic and ended his season with a foot injury ahead of the tournament last year.