Roger Federer believes Rafael Nadal would “absolutely deserve” to be world No1 again as the Spaniard stands just three wins away from returning to the top of the rankings.
Nadal would usurp Andy Murray as the new world No1 if he reaches the semi-finals in Montreal this week.
The 31-year-old has not occupied the top spot since July 2014 and after struggling with injury end of last year, he has stormed back to his best form this season, winning a 10th French Open in June, along with three more titles in the last seven months.
“It would be absolutely massive,” Federer told TennisTV of the prospect of Nadal reclaiming the No1 ranking.
“I remember when he was injured at the end of last year and here he is a few matches away from clinching world No1.
“In a way it seems very far, yet it’s very near, so he’s just got to stay focused. I hope for his sake he’s going to make it. If not, I’m happy for Andy to get another week at world No1 because the run that he showed as well last year was tremendous.
“I have unbelievable respect for Andy, that he was able to do it and get to world No1 and finish the year at world No1, that was nice to see. Now there’s probably going to be a changing of the guard at world No1 level, in the near future and I hope for Rafa he can get there again, he would absolutely deserve it after his 10th French Open win in the summer.”
Nadal opens his Montreal campaign on Wednesday against Croatian Borna Coric, who owns two victories in three meetings with the Mallorcan, while Federer faces home favourite Peter Polansky.
A battle for year-end No1 looks likely to transpire between Nadal and Federer over the next few months but the former insists it is not his main focus.
“I never thought about that and I’m still not thinking about it,” said Nadal of the top spot.
“I go day by day and I try my best in every match and then we’ll see what’s going to happen. But it’s something I’m not thinking much about. If it happens, for sure (it’s) welcome.
“It’s obvious that after all the things that happened to me with injuries, going back that spot will be special.”
Murray, who is missing Montreal with a hip injury, has struggled in 2017, claiming just one title, in Dubai, and accumulating a 25-10 win-loss record.
He said after his Wimbledon quarter-final exit to Sam Querrey that he “doesn’t deserve” to keep his top spot much longer.
American world No. 17 Jack Sock turned up the style at the ATP Masters 1000 in Montreal on Tuesday during his 7-6 (4), 6-3 opening round win over Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
While rushing the net against his French opponent, Sock dazzled with a behind-the-back volley before putting away a high volley backhand.
The day before, Gael Monfils wrapped up his 2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-1 win over Steve Johnson by running down a drop shot then flicking the ball over with his back to the net. It’s a move only Monfils would pull off, and while it may not have been as stylish as Sock’s approach, it was a stunner nonetheless.
A still-hurting Nick Kyrgios cruised into the second round of the ATP Montreal Masters on Monday with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Viktor Troicki.
A 51-minute outing was just what the doctor ordered for 16th-seeded Kyrgios, who had retired from his three prior matches because of injuries.
“Still in pain, but I played OK today,” said Kyrgios, who had quit matches at Queen’s Club and Wimbledon with a nagging hip injury then was booed off the court in Washington last week when he retired against 106th-ranked American Tennys Sandgren with right shoulder trouble.
The 22-year-old Australian, ranked 24th in the world, admitted the setbacks have sapped his morale.
“I’ve been struggling the last couple months with a bunch of things,” Kyrgios said. “I wake up, I want to play. And then I wake up and, I don’t know, some days I don’t.
“I felt good today, obviously. I didn’t feel like I hit the ball extremely well. I didn’t serve great. I thought I served OK. But he played far from his best tennis,” Kyrgios said.
Troicki has struggled of late with injury as well, also retiring from his first-round match at Wimbledon.
“We’re kind of in the same boat,” Kyrgios said.
Kyrgios broke Troicki twice in each set while never facing a break point. Even so, he needed seven match points to finally put the 45th-ranked Serb away.
His run of injury trouble has derailed what started out as a promising season for a player whose talent has often been overshadowed by his tantrums.
He reached the semi-finals at Marseille, Acapulco and Miami, and notched impressive victories over Novak Djokovic at Marseille and Indian Wells.
But illness forced him out of his scheduled Indian Wells quarter-final against Roger Federer, and he withdrew from Monte Carlo with elbow trouble and Rome with the hip injury that continued to dog him through Wimbledon.
“I’m getting a lot of treatment, trying to do my rehab every day,” Kyrgios said. “I’m doing everything I can, I guess.”
Provided by AFP