NEW YORK (Reuters) - This year’s U.S. Open is world number one Rafael Nadal’s best chance yet to complete a career grand slam by adding the one major title to elude him, according to John McEnroe.
“A lot of people, including myself, believe his best chance to win the Open is right now,” four-times U.S. Open winner McEnroe said Wednesday.
Nadal has shown formidable form in winning his fifth French Open and second Wimbledon crown in the season’s two previous grand slams to go along with his 2008 Australian Open triumph.
The pounding, backcourt style has worn him down in the past and injuries have limited him at the end of past seasons, making it more difficult for him to shine on the hardcourts of Flushing Meadows, which severely test his troublesome knees.
Various factors now favoured Nadal in the tournament at Flushing Meadows starting on August 30, McEnroe told reporters during a conference call.
“He’s really tried to pull back. He’s trying to win it,” the former bad boy of tennis said. “He’s playing just enough tennis so he has confidence and to intimidate the other players. He is also giving his body a break.
“Sometimes there’s seven weeks between Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and sometimes there are eight. This year there’s eight, and that gives him a chance to have five weeks off.
“It looks like a pretty promising situation for him.”
The famed left-hander added that Nadal had improved facets of his game that enabled him to overtake five-times U.S. Open winner Roger Federer in the rankings and could swing the balance next month in New York.
“Why is Nadal number one?” said McEnroe. “I think because he volleys better, I think better than Federer now. He improved his serve. He took steps to make himself better.”
Editing by Rex Gowar