Rafael Nadal's absence from the US Open could be a blessing

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At first glance, Rafael Nadal's withdrawal from the US Open is a massive disappointment. From a spectator's point of view, any big-name sportsman missing a major event is a shame, especially somebody of Nadal's style and quality.

The US Open will be without its defending champion as the 28-year-old failed to recover in time from a wrist injury, the delayed announcement was made earlier this week.

The timing of the decision might suggest that the Spaniard's participation was in the balance and with all things considered, it could be a blessing.


For starters, nobody wants to see a great player struggle around the court. Rather, you want to see them in full flow and pleasing the crowds with great point and shots.

Nadal has nothing to prove anymore, and for him to grind along in the low gears won't do him any favours at all - he would also risk further injury. It was a shame to see him at Wimbledon, where the world number two was knocked out by Australian wildcard teenager Nick Kyrgios.

At least the 14-time Grand Slam champion has plenty of time to recover before he can attempt to win just his second Australian Open next year. He can still catch Roger Federer on that all-time major list.

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Roger Federer's chance

There are plenty of other exciting opportunities that arise from Nadal's withdrawal too. Federer himself has gone far too long without a Grand Slam and now could be his chance.

I don't think there are too many fans of the sport that would begrudge the Swiss star of that elusive number 18. The former world number one has struggled in his 30s, but Flushing Meadows would be a great place to end his drought.

Too often the focus is put on Nadal's rivalry with Novak Djokovic. Unfortunately, Federer has somewhat fallen under the radar. But with Djokovic struggling for form too, the 32-year-old is finally favourite to shine again.

Breakthrough for others

If Federer can't quite get over the line in New York, how refreshing would it be to see a new name lift a Grand Slam?

The big four - also including Andy Murray - have dominated to such an extent that it's difficult for younger players to breakthrough and experience success.

Now, with the big four looking somewhat ropey with Nadal's injury and Murray and Djokovic's poor form, the others finally have a chance to show what they're made of. They can really match the top stars now.

Players like Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic; those youngsters had a breakthrough at Wimbledon and the removal of high-quality obstacles will only help their development.

Nadal is missing from action this year, and when he returns there could be a lot of pumped-up fellow pros. The US Open begins next week, and it will be hard to predict what will happen.

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Rafael Nadal
US Open Tennis

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