World No. 2 Alexander Zverev’s has confirmed his withdrawal from the 2022 US Open after the German failed to recover from his ankle injury in time. Rafael Nadal will now be seeded second in the draw while defending champion Daniil Medvedev will keep the top spot.
Zverev suffered the injury during his semifinal clash against Nadal at Roland Garros earlier this year, and has not played on tour since.
Nadal, on the other hand, is still reeling from the abdominal injury that forced him to withdraw from the semifinals at Wimbledon. The Spaniard made his return in Cincinnati in a 3-set loss to eventual champion Borna Coric. Confirmation that he will not be taking on Medvedev until the final will bolster his preparations.
Despite his evident physical problems, Nadal, unbeaten at Grand Slams this year, is still the favourite to lift the title in New York next month. The Spaniard, a five-time former US Open champion, returns to Flushing Meadows after three years. His last outing in 2019 saw him lift the title.
The 36-year-old got some practice under his belt in America’s midwest before arriving in New York on Monday where he resumed his training on the Arthur Ashe stadium court.
There will be another spring in his step following Zverev’s withdrawal, with Nadal’s bid to end the year as World No. 1 being further strengthened. If he lifts the title, the Spaniard will leave Flushing Meadows at the top spot of the rankings regardless of other results. But if some other results go his way, Nadal could be at the top even if he loses as early as the quarterfinal. With no points to defend until the end of the season, he is now the favourite to end the year as World No.1 for a sixth time in his career.