World No. 3 Rafael Nadal will be making his tournament debut at the upcoming Washington Open 2021 where the Spaniard will be back in action for the first time since his semi-final exit at the 2021 French Open. Nadal has been handed a wildcard and is also the top-seeded player at the tournament.
Nadal had a good season on Clay but missed out on the French Open title where he was the defending champion and was on the hunt for his 21st Grand Slam but was unable to win the title after going out in a thriller against World No. 1 and eventual champion Novak Djokovic.
Nadal reportedly suffered an injury during the match and giving importance to his health and fitness, he decided to not participate in the 2021 Wimbledon and also the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. With the Hardcourt season coming up, Nadal is looking for maximum playing time ahead of the upcoming 2021 US Open where he will look to win his 5th US Open title and 21st Grand Slam.
Rafael Nadal to avoid defending champion Nick Kyrgios till the semi-finals
Owing to his seeding, Nadal has been handed a bye in the first round and will begin his campaign directly in the 2nd round where he is expected to meet either Jack Sock or Yoshihito Nishioka. Given his greater experience, it shouldn’t be much difficult for him to advance ahead where he can expect 14th seeded Lloyd Harris who will look to get back to the good Hardcourt form he had in the 1st half of the season.
The quarter-finals could be one of the trickiest clashes for the Spaniard as he can meet either Cameron Norrie, who is in great form on the hardcourts already having won the 2021 Los Cabos Open in Mexico, or he could meet Kei Nishikori who will come directly from a quarter-final run at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
If Nadal gets past this hurdle, he is most likely to face defending champion from the 2019 Washington Open Nick Kyrgios or Italy’s Grigor Dimitrov. Kyrgios could be a great challenge for Nadal but his inconsistency always remains a mystery for tennis fans across the globe.
Nadal’s Potential path at the 2021 Washington Open:
- 1st Round – Bye
- 2nd Round – Jack Sock/Yoshihito Nishioka
- 3rd Round – Lloyd Harris
- Quarter-Finals – Cameron Norrie/Kei Nishikori
- Semi-Finals – Nick Kyrgios/Grigor Dimitrov
- Finals – Felix Auger-Aliassime/Jannik Sinner
In the finals, it could be a clash to watch out for as Nadal could face Canadian youngster Felix Auger-Aliassime who is currently coached by Nada’s uncle and former coach Toni Nadal. If not Felix, it could be Italian teenager Jannik Sinner who gave Nadal a good run for his money at the 2021 Rome Masters.
While Nadal will certainly be the guy with the biggest experience, it won’t be so easy for him as he is expected to have some rustiness coming from such a long break of nearly 7 months from when he last played on Hardcourts.