Nadal, who won the title in 2010 and 2013 and was the runner-up in 2011, lost in the fourth round last year to Lucas Pouille though has had a resurgence since then, rising to the world number one ranking this week after starting the season just inside the top ten. Having taken the French Open title earlier this year, the Spaniard will be aiming for a second Major this year and a 16th overall.
Early 2017 performances
Unsurprisingly, Nadal’s best results came during the clay court season. He lost in the quarterfinals in Rome to Dominic Thiem, but previously won titles in Monte-Carlo, Madrid, and Barcelona and went on to win a staggering tenth French Open title in June, beating Thiem in the semifinals before crushing Stan Wawrinka in the final.
He has also had some solid hard court earlier on in the year. He reached the final of the Australian Open, falling to Roger Federer, and also lost to the Swiss in the final in Miami. Furthermore, the Spaniard lost in the final in Acapulco to Sam Querrey, and fell to Federer once again in the fourth round in Indian Wells. During the grass season, Nadal reached the same stage at Wimbledon, falling to Gilles Muller, though would have headed into the summer with a lot of confidence after a strong season overall.
Hard Court summer
Nadal unsurprisingly decided to enter only the Rogers Cup in Montreal and the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, though may have felt a little disappointed after two fairly average (by his standards) results at both tournaments.
The Spaniard was the first seed in Montreal and crushed Borna Coric for the loss of just three games in his first match. However, he was then the victim of one of the biggest upsets of the season in his next match, falling to home favorite Denis Shapovalov in a tight-three set match.
Guaranteed to rise to the number ranking no matter how he did in Cincinnati, the Spaniard started with a solid straight-sets win over Richard Gasquet. Following that he saw off fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas in straight sets (after a tough first set), before he became victim to another surprising defeat as he fell to Nick Kyrgios in straight sets in the last eight.
Best US Open result
He hasn’t had the success that he has had in Paris, but the US Open has been a happy hunting ground for Nadal in the past, taking the title in both 2010 and 2013.
Seven years ago, Nadal didn’t drop a set to make the last eight, beating the likes of Gilles Simon and 23rd seed Feliciano Lopez in relative ease to reach the quarterfinals. The top seed, he then comfortably saw off eighth Fernando Verdasco in the last eight and then 12th seed Mikhail Youzhny to reach the final. In the final he dropped a set for the first time, though saw off third seed Novak Djokovic to complete the career Grand Slam.
Three years later, Nadal was seeded second and beat the likes of Ivan Dodig and 22nd seed Philipp Kohlschreiber for the loss of just one set to reach the quarterfinals. He conceded just four games in his quarterfinal clash against 19th seed Tommy Robredo, before seeing off eighth seed Richard Gasquet to make the final. There, after falling to him in the 2011 final, he once again overcame Djokovic to take his second title.
Nadal has struggled at the US Open since his last triumph, withdrawing in 2014 and failing to make the the quarterfinal in 2015 or 2016. However, after his best season in a long time, it would not be a surprise to see the top seed well into the latter stages of the tournament.