Alexander Zverev has threatened Rafael Nadal’s chances of winning the US Open and reaching world No 1 as he shared his hopes to be back in time for the final Grand Slam of the season. The German suffered a horror injury in his match against the Spaniard at the French Open and is now in a race against time to be fit for the US Open in 18 days.
Zverev has been out of action since June, when he went down on his ankle midway through his French Open semi-final against Nadal, needing a wheelchair to be taken off court. He later revealed he had torn several ligaments and underwent surgery, putting him out of action for the entire grass-court season as well as the Masters 1000s in Montreal and Cincinnati.
But the world No 2 is now in a race against time to make his return at the US Open, where he will be in with a chance at reaching the top spot of the rankings for the first time. And the news comes as a big blow to Nadal, who would have been the only man in with a shot of dethroning Daniil Medvedev if Zverev had skipped the final Major of the season.
“Obviously I am going to try to make it to the US Open even if it’s in a very very short time,” the 2020 finalist told reporters during a press conference in Hamburg on Thursday. Zverev had been in strong form before his freak injury in Paris, as he played one of his best matches in a while to beat Carlos Alcaraz in the quarters and was giving Nadal a run for his money before going down injured in their match.
He could now be a big threat to the Spaniard’s unbeaten streak at Grand Slams if he is able to return in New York. Nadal is yet to lose a Major match this year, winning the Australian Open and French Open and reaching the Wimbledon semi-final, where he was forced to withdraw ahead of the match with an abdominal tear.
Following Medvedev’s second-round loss to Nick Kyrgios at the Montreal Masters on Wednesday, Zverev will be just 125 points behind the world No 1 when the rankings update on Monday.
While the Russian can make some up in Cincinnati, he will have another 2,000 to defend from winning the US Open last year where Zverev can make up to 1,280 points having only reached the semis in 2021.
The Olympic champion is currently 1140 points ahead of Nadal, who sits in the world No 3 spot, so has a big lead over the Spaniard to try and reach the world No 1 ranking for the first time in his career at the US Open.