Just uncorked the champagne in Montreal, where Pablo Carreño, always aggressive, won the first Masters 1000 of his career against Pole Hubert Hurkacz (3-6, 6-3, 6-3), the tennis party crosses the southern border of Canada and moves to Cincinnati, "the most beautiful inner city in the United States," according to Winston Churchill.
There, on the banks of the Ohio River, a natural barrier with the state of Kentucky, stands the majestic Kings Island, a theme park founded in 1972 with some of the most brutal roller coasters in the country.
Vertigo, however, is unleashed a few meters from there, in Mason, a district where, among trees, chalets and lawnmowers, looms the central court - with capacity for 11,000 spectators - which hosts the final every August of the Cincinnati Masters 1000.
Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz want to be there, the two Spaniards who, third and fourth in the ranking respectively, arrive as favorites for the tournament that precedes the US Open, the last Grand Slam of the course.
Nadal, who crossed Montreal off his calendar for not recovering in time from his abdominal injury, the one that separated him from Wimbledon at the gates of another titanic fight for the title, arrives in Cincinnati with his batteries charged, although aware of his reality.
“You have to know that when he comes back on tour after a few weeks off, there will be aspects of his game that won't be perfect, they won't be where they need to be.
You can't have the expectation of playing perfect or at an incredible level from the beginning”, he said at the press conference this Sunday.
Despite everything, the man from Manacori, champion in Cincinnati in 2013 -he has not played the tournament since 2017-, was enthusiastic about the possibility of recovering the number one in the ATP on the North American cement, a place he has not held since February 2020:
It means a lot to me at this point in my career.
It's something I didn't expect could happen again."
Sweet summertime practice in Cincy 🌞#CincyTennis pic.twitter.com/4PjKxxGYhC
— Western & Southern Open (@CincyTennis) August 13, 2022
Alcaraz, for his part, younger and inexperienced, lands in the United States wanting to make amends after the disappointment in Montreal, where he knelt before the American Tommy Paul, number 31 in the world,
and, what is more important, after feeling the pressure for the first time.
"It's hard to hold on," he said after the loss.
Now, in Cincinnati, more relaxed, he was enthusiastic about another opportunity, although aware of his words in Canada: “I'm at a point where every game is a challenge for me.
I am number four in the world, one of the favorites to win this tournament, so it can be a bit difficult to handle all this pressure.”
The tennis player from El Palmar, champion this season of two Masters 1000 (Miami, hard court; and Madrid, clay), feels that, after his meteoric rise, an undoubted breath of fresh air on the men's circuit, everything is settling down, too in the rivals, who read him better than in the beginning: “I think that all the players demand a lot of themselves to play better against me.
If they don't play very aggressive or at a high level, I'm a very difficult opponent for them, so I take their preparation as a compliment”.
Close to playing his second US Open, a big one that starts on August 29 in New York and that Nadal has won four times (2010, 2013, 2017 and 2019), the young man from Murcia has been included in the Spanish team that will play the Davis Cup group stage against Serbia, Canada and South Korea.
Under the direction of Sergi Bruguera, in Valencia he will be accompanied by Bautista, Carreño, Davidovich and Granollers.
You can follow EL PAÍS Deportes on
, or sign up here to receive
our weekly newsletter
Subscribe to continue reading
read without limits
I'm already a subscriber