World No.3 Rafael Nadal will kick start his preparation for the North American hard court swing, by playing the Citi Open tournament for the very first time in his career.
The Spaniard was last seen in action in the semifinals of the 2021 French Open, where he was downed by World No.1 Novak Djokovic. Since then, injury to the ankle kept the 20-time Grand Slam winner away from the Wimbledon Championships and 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
True to his professionalism, Nadal has already been practicing hard on the courts of Washington. From hitting with his coach, Francisco Roig to next generation star, Sebastian Korda, the Citi Open debutant has been trying his best to get into his groove. Before his first round match, the Spaniard was also seen indulging in an exhausting practice session with ATP star and friend, Grigor Dimitrov.
Besides intense rallying, the two also engaged in points play, much to the delight of the present crowd on the main court.
The Spaniard and the Bulgarian have often been spotted training and hanging out together on the ATP tour. In fact, both players have often opined on how the mutual respect between the two has grown over the years.
Nadal and Dimitrov have met 15 times on the ATP tour, with the 35-year-old comfortably leading the 30-year-old by 14-1. The only time the Bulgarian beat the Spaniard was on the hard courts of Beijing in 2016.
Nadal to play Sock
Nadal is the top seed at Washington and will take on WC Jack Sock in the opening round. The Spaniard has won titles in Barcelona and Rome this year and will be keen to get back to top form, ahead of the final Grand Slam in New York.
The 35-year-old will also travel to Canada to play the Toronto Masters, before he heads to the US Open, where he will be eyeing his fifth title in New York. Meanwhile, Dimitrov will play Belarusian Ilya Ivashka in the round of 32.