Nadal eyes op­po­nents’ scalps more than World No 1 spot

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MON­TREAL: Rafael Nadal says he’ll fo­cus on the foes in front of him at the ATP Mon­treal Masters this week, and not on his chance to re­turn to num­ber one in the world.

A semi-fi­nal run in Mon­treal would see the Spa­niard sup­plant Bri­tain’s Andy Mur­ray atop the rank­ings.

“I don’t even think about that now,” Nadal said of num­ber one. “I’m try­ing to have the right prepa­ra­tion now and that’s it.

“I’m go­ing to keep try­ing to play the way I did in the first part of the sea­son, so if I’m able to make that hap­pen, I hope to have a chance to do well.”

The top seed is ex­pected to open his cam­paign for a fourth Cana­dian ti­tle to­day with a sec­ond-round meet­ing against ei­ther Croa­t­ian Borna Coric or Rus­sian lucky loser Mikhail Youzhny.

Nadal could also be on track for a third round show­down against 2009 tour­na­ment run­ner-up Juan Martin del Potro who beat hard-serv­ing Amer­i­can John Is­ner in straight sets 7-5, 7-5 in a night match on Mon­day.

Mur­ray is among the no­table ab­sen­tees from this key US Open tuneup. No­vak Djokovic is tak­ing off the rest of the sea­son to re­hab an el­bow in­jury and US Open cham­pion Stan Wawrinka has ended his 2017 cam­paign with a knee prob­lem.

Mur­ray is try­ing to re­cover from a nag­ging hip in­jury in time for the fi­nal Grand Slam of the sea­son that starts later this month in Flush­ing Mead­ows.

Nadal claimed his 10th French Open ti­tle this year but bowed out in the fourth round at Wim­ble­don – his fifth exit be­fore the quar­ter­fi­nals in his last five ap­pear­ances at the All Eng­land Club.

Roger Fed­erer, who seized his 19th Grand Slam ti­tle at Wim­ble­don, is also slated to open to­day.

For­mer US Open cham­pion del Potro of Ar­gentina snapped an eight-match win streak for Is­ner, who earned from back-to-back ti­tle in July at the Hall of Fame Open in New­port and the At­lanta Open.

Del Potro had to over­come 24 aces by 14th seeded Is­ner as he seeks to re­turn to the fi­nal for the first time since los­ing to Mur­ray in 2009.

Del Potro ham­mered nine aces, had three double faults and won 85 per­cent of his first serves in the one hour, 49 minute match.

Del Potro closed out the vic­tory on his sec­ond match point by hit­ting a fore­hand win­ner down the line. He broke Is­ner at 5-5 in the sec­ond set then jumped out to a 40-0 lead in the fi­nal game.

“I got lucky to win tonight,” del Potro said.“No­body wants to play John in the first round. But now I am in good shape. I look for­ward to im­prov­ing my game and win­ning more matches.”

Del Potro next faces ei­ther Roge­rio Du­tra Silva or 18-yearold Cana­dian wild card De­nis Shapo­valov. If he wins, del Potro would likely face Nadal.

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