Rafael Nadal opens play tomorrow in Toronto against Benoit Paire. The 3-time Canadian Open champion first won in Toronto in 2008. But this year he enters with very limited play on the hard courts, a surface he hasn’t been on since retiring to Marin Cilic in the Australian Open quarterfinals.
“I’m very excited to come back to Toronto,” said Nadal. “2008 was so special, because that victory [helped] me reach world No.1 for the first time. I’ve missed this tournament many more times because of tough injuries, so I’m looking forward to be back at a tournament that I love.
Nadal, though, isn’t putting a lot of stock in how results this month will impact his upcoming US Open title defense.
“I think what can happen here or in Cincinnati will not have a big impact on the US Open,” the three-time Rogers Cup champion said. “Of course the good results would be good for the confidence but the conditions are completely different – courts, the ball especially.
“I know from my experience if I play well here and Cincinnati it’s a little bit easier to play well at the US Open but not decisive. Last year I didn’t play very well but I played well at the US Open and won it.”
Because of injury, Nadal hasn’t played in Toronto since 2010. And this will be his first match since a tough semifinal loss to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon.
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