John McEnroe believes that Rafael Nadal is now the favourite to end the year as the World no 1.
Despite a lack of match practice ahead of the US Open, McEnroe believes that Nadal is the favourite to win the final Grand Slam of the year and jump into top spot.
The US Open doesn’t end the season though and McEnroe feels that Nadal will make a strong conclusion to the season.
McEnroe doesn’t feel that Nadal’s second round loss at the Cincinnati Masters is a measure of how the 22-time Grand Slam winner will perform in New York.
It now appears likely that Novak Djokovic will not play in the US Open, a situation that arguably makes Nadal a strong favourite.
McEnroe points out that Nadal always seems to find another level when it comes to the Grand Slams and big matches.
“I do think he is the favourite, absolutely,” McEnroe told Eurosport. “I would be surprised if he doesn’t [finish as world No. 1].
“Especially, as it turned out, it would have helped if there was points at Wimbledon for him. But it hurt people like Novak and other players that had done well the previous year.
“He [Nadal] is in a great position to do that, which is amazing considering that he didn’t play for six months before that. Rafa does things that you can’t believe that it happened, which is why he’s considered the best and up there with the all-time greatest players – you never know what to expect.
“He didn’t play the semis at Wimbledon [after withdrawing following his quarter-final]. He lost against Coric in Cincinnati but Coric went on to win the whole thing so it doesn’t look so bad right now.
“You know that what he cares about is the US Open. With all due respect to Cincinnati, he wasn’t too worried about that, so at least he got on the court again.
“I don’t even know if it’s possible right now to catch him but it would seem very surprising if he wasn’t number one.”
Current World No 1 Daniil Medvedev can only hope to defend the points he won as the 2021 US Open champion and could lose top spot even if he reaches the final.
An early exit would be a disaster for Medvedev’s ranking and would open the door for a number of players to potentially snatch both the US OPen crown and the top spot.
Nadal is among those hot on the heels of the Russian and has no rankings points to defend at Flushing Meadows having missed the 2021 edition of the US Open.
If Djokovic does by some miracle make it into the United States and the US Open, he will be in the frame to snatch the No 1 ranking as well.
Other players who could become No 1 with some configuration of results include Carlos Alcaraz, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud.
Nadal’s position is perhaps the strongest though as he can become World No 1 in New York even without winning the tournament.