Cincinnati 2022: Rafael Nadal's projected path to the final | Western & Southern Open

Rafael Nadal will begin his US Open prep at the Cincinnati Open.
Rafael Nadal will begin his US Open prep at the Cincinnati Open.

Rafael Nadal is set to return to the tour at the Cincinnati Open after an injury layoff. He sustained an abdominal tear that forced him to withdraw prior to his Wimbledon semifinal. The Spaniard has been out of action since then.

Nadal has won the tournament just once so far, back in 2013, and is competing here for the first time since 2016. He also has a shot at getting back to the World No. 1 ranking if he performs well here, but it also depends on how other players' results too.

Such a good news! Rafa Nadal will be in Cincinnati next week 🤠

Nadal is seeded second and has received a first-round bye. Let’s take a closer look at his projected path to the final of the Cincinnati Open.

Rafael Nadal's likely 2nd-round opponent - Borna Coric

Nadal is likely to kick off his quest for a second title in Cincinnati against Borna Coric. The Croat made his comeback following shoulder surgery this year, which hasn't been going that well. With a 4-8 win-loss record for the year, he's not a big threat for the Spaniard, who's returning from an injury break himself.

Should Coric falter in the opening round itself, Nadal could meet a yet-to-be-placed qualifier in his place.

Rafael Nadal's likely 3rd-round opponent - Roberto Bautista Agut

Nadal's third-round foe is likely to be compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut. The former World No. 1 has a perfect 3-0 record against him. Nevertheless, he could provide a stern test to the 22-time Grand Slam champion. Bautista Agut has won a couple of titles this year and has been rather consistent.

Nadal's other possible opponents at this stage include either Francisco Cerundolo or a qualifier.

Rafael Nadal's likely quarter-final opponent - Jannik Sinner or Felix Auger-Aliassime

Both Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jannik Sinner have been in great form this season. The Canadian pushed Nadal to five sets at the French Open a few months ago and could give him a run for his money yet again.

Sinner has been a beacon of consistency as well and has three top 10 victories under his belt this season. Nadal hasn't lost a match to either of them yet, so if he has played himself into form by now, he'll be favored to make it past this stage.

Rafael Nadal's likely semi-final opponent - Casper Ruud or Carlos Alcaraz

Nadal's probable semifinal foe could be the teen sensation Carlos Alcaraz. The young Spaniard has been on a roll this year, winning four titles from six finals. He has notched up eight victories over top 10 players, including one over the 22-time Grand Slam champion.

However, he made an early exit from the Canadian Open, so it remains to be seen how he will rebound after that loss.

It was the first time that I couldn't handle the pressure… I have to be ready to have this pressure, to have this kind of moments, and to learn how to handle it! 💪🏻

Casper Ruud is yet another possible adversary for Nadal at this stage. The Norwegian is currently in the semifinals of the Canadian Open. The last time the two faced off, the Spaniard handled him with ease in the French Open final in June. A similar result can be expected if the former World No. 1 is in his best form.

Rafael Nadal's likely opponent in the final - Daniil Medvedev or Nick Kyrgios or Hubert Hurkacz

World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev, who has become one of the best hardcourt players of his generation, lost in the second round to the in-form Nick Kyrgios. The two are on a collision course in Cincinnati as well, with the winner possibly awaiting Nadal in the title round.

Hubert Hurkacz, currently a semifinalist at the Canadian Open, is yet another candidate. He has performed quite well at the Masters 1000 level this season and will pose a threat to Nadal.

Other possible finalists from the top half of the draw include Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev.

Rafael Nadal and wife Maria Francisca Perello spotted with infant son. click here for pictures.

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Edited by Anirudh
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