- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nadal not in peak condition heading to US Open

NEW YORK (AP) - Rafael Nadal concedes he probably isn’t in peak condition heading into the U.S. Open.

The Spanish star returned to competition this month after taking off more than two months because of tendinitis in both knees. Now he’s seeking the one major title he hasn’t won.

“Well, I am No. 3 in the world. And the No. 3 in the world should have a chance to win, no?” Nadal told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “But I don’t know if I arrive in best condition.”

Nadal and Serena Williams hit tennis balls for charity on a makeshift court on Broadway in the middle of Manhattan. They showed off the Nike outfits they’ll wear during the day at the Open: a hot pink dress for Williams, a bright yellow shirt with teal headband for Nadal.

One of the reasons Nadal decided not to defend his Wimbledon title was that he found himself thinking too much about his knees.

“After an injury, sure, you think a little bit,” he said Wednesday. “But I am much better, I feel.”

Nadal made his comeback at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, losing to Juan Martin del Potro in the quarterfinals. He then fell to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals at the Cincinnati Masters.

Nadal had rested his knees since a fourth-round defeat to Robin Soderling at the French Open on May 31 ended his streak of four consecutive championships at Roland Garros. He lost his No. 1 ranking to Roger Federer and later dropped to No. 3 behind Andy Murray.

Nadal has never advanced beyond the semifinals at the U.S. Open.

“It’s very special. I’ve won the other three, so if I win that it’s going to be a complete cycle,” he said. “It will be amazing.”

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