Rested Rafa seeks second straight US Open title

Rafael Nadal (Getty)
Rafael Nadal (Getty)

New York - World No 1 Rafael Nadal is feeling rested and ready as he looks to defend his US Open title.

The Spaniard has put together back-to-back major crowns only at the French Open - where he has won 11 of his 17 Grand Slam titles.

A year ago at Flushing Meadows, he mowed down a men's field that was missing five of the top-ranked 11 men, with Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and 2016 US Open champion Stan Wawrinka among the injured absentees.

His brutally one-sided victory over South African Kevin Anderson in his third Grand Slam final of the year gave him a second major of 2017 - after two years in which he failed to reach a Slam final.

"Last year has been a very special year after a couple of years," Nadal said on Friday. "2015 was not a positive year in terms of level of tennis, 2016 I was playing good tennis but I got injured.

"Had the chance to get back in 2017. Of course I won on clay, but then to win on hard again is something that means a lot to me, especially here in New York."

This year the men's field features a full complement of the world's top-ranked players and seven former US Open champions, but Nadal believes he's had an ideal build up, starting with a hardcourt Masters title in Toronto.

"That's important for the feelings, for the confidence," Nadal said. "That gave me a chance to rest the week after in Cincinnati."

After scooping his 80th career title - and his 33rd Masters 1000 - the 32-year-old pulled out of Cincinnati to focus on his US Open prep.

"I was resting from competing, not resting from working," said Nadal, adding that as the tournament draws closer the signs are all encouraging.

"The last couple of days (before the tournament) is the moment to understand, that you really realize if you are better, you are worse - when you start to put the full mind on what you're doing."

He's set to open his campaign on Monday with what promises to be an emotional 31st career encounter with his good friend and Davis Cup team-mate David Ferrer, a former world No 3 who has slipped out of the top 100 and will retire at the end of the year.

The quarter-finals could bring a rematch of last year's final against fifth-seeded Anderson - who reached the final at Wimbledon this year.

Despite last year's lopsided victory, Nadal said Anderson would pose a serious threat.

"He's a player that's always improving," Nadal said of Anderson. "He plays so aggressive. He has a huge serve. He's one of these players that are dangerous for everybody."

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England 219
Pakistan 326 & 137/8 (44 ov)
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