Tennis News – Rafael Nadal arrives in Cincinnati, Djokovic withdraws – but holds hope for US Open

Spaniard Rafael Nadal returns to Cincinnati. EPA-EFE/JAMES ROSS NO ARCHIVING

By Ricky Dimon

Still unable to enter the United States as an unvaccinated foreigner, Novak Djokovic withdrew from the Western and Southern Open on Friday morning.

Because Djokovic withdrew before Friday’s draw ceremony and before the start of qualifying, he was replaced by the next player on the entry list, as opposed to a lucky loser. Brandon Nakashima entered directly thanks to the exit of the Serb, and since Nakashima already had a wild card which now frees the tournament to give a wild card to someone else. He actually has two to work with, as the recent withdrawal of Gael Monfils gave direct entry to Nick Kyrgios – who had previously been with a wild card.

As for Djokovic, there is a glimmer of hope that he will gain access to the United States in time for the US Open. On Thursday, the CDC announced that “unvaccinated people now receive the same guidance as vaccinated people.” There was no update on travel restrictions in the country, but the CDC added that these guidelines are under review. The 21-time Grand Slam champion has two weeks for the United States to change its policy.

Djokovic may be out, but Cincinnati will have Rafael Nadal on the court. Nadal announced earlier this week that he was ready to return and he was already seen training there on Thursday.

The 36-year-old Spaniard has a chance to regain the No. 1 ranking after Cincinnati, which would give him the top seed at the US Open. This will be the case if Nadal wins the title and Daniil Medvedev loses before the quarter-finals.

This is Nadal’s first appearance at the Cincinnati Masters since 2017 and he is aiming for his second title, having triumphed in 2013.

Ricky contributes to and also runs its own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.

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