Washington DC, Aug 1 (IANS): Spain's Rafael Nadal will begin his tune-up for the US Open in August-September with the Citi Open -- an ATP 500 hard-court tournament -- which commences here on Monday.
After having skipped Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics the world No. 3 begins his quest for an 89th tour-level title as the top seed and he could meet one of the most in-form players of the season in an early test.
Should he reach the quarterfinals, Nadal could get a big test in the form of seventh-seeded UK player Cameron Norrie, who lifted his first ATP Tour trophy a fortnight ago in Los Cabos, Mexico. Norrie is enjoying a very successful Tour season, and he trails only Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas (40) and Russia's Andrey Rublev (36) with 35 matches won in 2021.
And that's not all as Nadal is in the same half as fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria. Besides plenty of unseeded players, including Nick Kyrgios and Brandon Nakashima loom large.
Nadal, the 20-time Grand Slam champion, will be contesting his first hard-court tournament since the Australian Open in February, where he reached the quarterfinals before falling to Tsitsipas in a five-set battle.
Nadal has a 22-4 record this season after winning title in Barcelona and Rome, but has not competed since reaching the French Open semifinals where he lost to the eventual winner Novak Djokovic.
Nadal then pulled out of Wimbledon citing physical and mental fatigue.
"I am very excited to come to Washington for the first time. I have never been there, and it's one more place I wanted to come and play. I am looking forward to playing again, and Washington shall be the best start for the US summer swing for me," Nadal was quoted as saying by tennis.com.
When he takes the court on Wednesday, Nadal will be playing his first match in 54 days after the marathon 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2 loss to Djokovic in the French Open semifinals on June 11th.
Nadal is the winner of four US Open titles -- 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2019 -- and would go as one of the favourites as this is the second-best major for him after the French Open, where he has won a record 13 times. The Spaniard is also a two-time Wimbledon champion and has won the Australian Open once.