Rafael Nadal intends to make his Tour comeback next month and plans to play at the 2022 Australian Open.

The 20-time major champion has not played since a defeat to Lloyd Harris at the Citi Open in August.

The 35-year-old, who withdrew from Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics after losing to Novak Djokovic in the French Open semi-finals, also pulled out of the US Open due to a recurring foot injury.

Nadal has spent time training in Mallorca this month following treatment in Barcelona and said he was not sure when he would make his return to action.

Speaking at a sponsor event in Paris, Nadal said he hopes to play at the World Tennis Championship next month before a possible tilt at the first grand slam of next year, an event he has won just once back in 2009.

"My plan is to play Abu Dhabi in December and then in a tournament before Australia and then the Australian Open. That's my goal," Nadal said. "We're working hard to make it happen.

"The injury in my foot still needs to get a little better, but I'm already training almost an hour and a half a day so that's positive. Some days are better than others, but I'm starting to have a lot more positive days than negative ones.

"So, I'm on the right track. I'm training, I'm feeling better. I'm back on the court."

World number eight Casper Ruud and world number 13 Denis Shapovalov are two of the big names from the ATP Tour to have confirmed they will play in Abu Dhabi in the event that runs from December 16-18.

Women's Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic and surprise US Open champion Emma Raducanu have also signed up to make their tournament debuts.

The Australian Open, won this year by Novak Djokovic, is due to start on January 17.

Daniil Medvedev says it is "logical" that the age of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic has made it easier to play against the 'Big Three' of men's tennis.

For so long, that triumvirate has dominated the ATP Tour, with Djokovic winning three of the four grand slams on offer in 2021 – denied only a clean sweep by Medvedev at the US Open.

Nadal has struggled with a foot injury for most of the year, though, a problem that saw him miss out on Wimbledon, the Tokyo Olympics and Flushing Meadows after losing to Djokovic in the French Open semi-finals.

Federer, similarly, has missed large parts of the 2021 term after requiring a third operation on his right knee in the space of 18 months.

Medvedev accepted Djokovic had proven "he can beat everyone" in another sensational season, but – while heaping praise on a golden generation of tennis – the Russian said it is natural that time has caught up with all three.

"It would be silly to deny it…[it's] logical," he told reporters about the prospect of younger players replacing the greats at the top of the men's game.

"It is something natural. It is not something that I decide. It is evidence. They get old and now it is easier to play against them."

Medvedev only dropped one set across the entire tournament en route to securing a maiden slam at the US Open.

However, Medvedev was reticent to say the shift in power has taken place.

"I do not dare to speak of a generational change in tennis," Medvedev said.

"It is the best generation in the history of tennis.

"Nobody can come close to the results they have achieved.

"We all want to defeat that troika. And they don't want to lose either."

 

Medvedev then focused on his own progress, having pulled out of the Kremlin Cup citing injury problems from an early exit in Indian Wells.

"I want to win more Grand Slams," he continued. "I also want to be number one and be at the top of tennis for many years. But you can't win every tournament, it's impossible."

Twenty-time grand slam winner Rafael Nadal has refused to put a timeline on his comeback to competitive tennis and will only return when he is in "good condition".

Nadal has not played since early August when he lost to Lloyd Harris in the third round at the Citi Open, before withdrawing from the US Open due to a recurring foot injury.

The 35-year-old Spaniard had in June pulled out of Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics shortly after losing to Novak Djokovic in the French Open semi-finals, saying he was "listening to my body".

Nadal, who will not return this season, has been seen training in Mallorca after last month receiving treatment in Barcelona, offering hope of a return.

"I want to recover from this injury in good condition," Nadal told a news conference.

"I don't know when I will play again, I work a lot every day, I follow a specific plan with a marked roadmap and with very clear objectives."

The next major on the calendar is the 2022 Australian Open to be played in Melbourne in January although Nadal would not commit to participating.

"I will not say what those objectives are, because there are always things that I can't control 100 per cent, but inside my head I'm clear on what my objectives are and I trust that things will follow a positive course," he said.

"Not everything depends on me, but I am confident that my daily efforts will pay off and allow me to return soon."

Jon Rahm hopes to "transcend golf and become an idol", echoing the achievements of tennis star and compatriot Rafael Nadal.

Rahm, who lives in America, has been amazed by his level of fame back home in Spain, where he is preparing for the Iberian swing of the European Tour.

This week he will seek to claim a third consecutive Open de Espana title in Madrid, with the world number one having risen to a level where he is instantly recognisable on the streets of the capital.

"It is difficult to be an idol when I do not live here," said the U.S. Open champion. "I see it when I spend a certain amount of time here, when you reach a certain level and even more so today with social media, because you reach more people and you realise the impact that you have.

"It only took 30 seconds for someone to recognise me when I left the hotel. If you were to tell me that this will happen to me in Bilbao, my hometown, I could understand it.

"I imagine that Madrid is full of sportsmen, but to be recognised so quickly is something I was not aware of.

"My parents and my friends tell me, but until I see it for my myself I do not realise it too much. Hopefully, I will transcend golf and become an idol."

Asked about an esteemed selection of his fellow countrymen – namely Nadal, former NBA stalwart Pau Gasol, and two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso – and the level of fame they have achieved, Rahm chose the 20-time grand slam winner as the one he would most like to emulate.

"You have named three sportsmen that have been my idols, three that I have seen competing, especially Rafa, who I already said is an idol and a model for me to learn from," said Rahm.

"I don't know if I will reach the level in golf that he reached in tennis because nowadays it's very competitive, but if I can be an idol for any Spanish kid, that would be welcome."

Novak Djokovic may have missed out on completing a Grand Slam in 2021 but his "crazy" achievements across the year have received praise from Roger Federer. 

Djokovic fell at the final hurdle in his bid to secure a clean sweep of the majors, losing in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev at the US Open.

The Serbian's defeat at Flushing Meadows means Rod Laver remains the last man to claim all four majors in one year, the Australian doing so for a second time in 1969 having previously managed the feat seven years earlier. 

Neither Federer, who missed out on playing in New York due to knee surgery, nor Rafael Nadal have done so in their stellar careers, though the Swiss is certain a calendar slam is still possible.

"Will it actually happen again, that a player will win all four grand slams in their career? I think so," Federer said.

"We have seen with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and of course with me as well that this is possible.  

"It is extremely hard, of course. But I have the feeling, more than ever, that we can dominate on all kinds of ground where we have all found our own game.  

"The problem is mentally and physically it is not getting any easier for any of us. So, what Novak was able to accomplish this year has to be highly rated. It was absolute top class. It was crazy." 

Federer confirmed he would be out for "many months" when revealing he would require a third procedure on his problematic right knee in the space of 18 months.

However, the 40-year-old – who sits tied with long-time rivals Djokovic and Nadal on 20 grand slam singles titles – has suffered no setbacks in his recovery so far, putting him on course for a competitive return to the ATP Tour in the 2022 season.

"I'm feeling actually really good, considering, you know, that things are not as I hoped they would be, but I'm recovering well and the rehab is going really good, I must say," Federer said. 

"I've had no setbacks. You know, every day is a better day. I'm feeling strong and excited for what's to come."

Federer has not played since losing in straight sets to Hubert Hurkacz in the Wimbledon quarter-finals back in July.

Rafael Nadal posed with crutches and an apparently bandaged foot as the injured former US Open champion revealed on Saturday he has undergone treatment in Barcelona.

The 20-time grand slam winner announced in August that his season was over, as he battles a problem that has troubled him since 2005 and has recently hindered his tournament preparation.

Nadal felt he was unable to do himself justice, and since a French Open semi-final defeat to Novak Djokovic in June, he has played just two more matches, reaching the last 16 at the Citi Open in Washington.

He wrote on Instagram on Saturday: "Hello everyone, I have not communicated with you through the networks for some time.

"I can tell you that I was in Barcelona with my team and the medical team, to receive a treatment on my foot that will mean I take a few days of rest and a few weeks off court.

"I am back home and in the process of recovery. Thank you all for your support!"

The social media post shows Mallorca native Nadal giving a thumbs-up gesture to the camera, but it also gives an indication of the extent of his problem.

He stands with only his right foot on the ground, the left raised off the floor in what looks like an effort to protect it, as he props himself up with a pair of crutches in his left hand.

Nadal has won the US Open four times, most recently in 2019, but has been one of a number of star-name absentees from this year's tournament in New York.

The 35-year-old has 13 French Open wins among his haul of majors, and stands level on 20 grand slams with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic has an opportunity to go top of the all-time men's list on Sunday when he faces Daniil Medvedev in the men's final at Flushing Meadows.

As Nadal suffers, so does his great rival Federer. A Nadal return to action in 2022 appears a more likely prospect than another Federer comeback.

Federer has cast some doubt on whether he will play again, as the 40-year-old battles knee trouble. The Swiss said last month he would be "on crutches for many weeks" after surgery, declaring he wanted to give himself "a glimmer of hope" of featuring again on tour.

Carlos Alcaraz was lost for words after making history in the Spanish teenager's shock five-set upset of world number three Stefanos Tsitsipas at the US Open.

Alcaraz – rated by many as Spain's best young male player since 20-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal first emerged – sent Tsitsipas packing 6-3 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 0-6 7-6 (7-5) in the third round on Friday.

The 18-year-old Alcaraz became the youngest player to reach the last 16 of the US Open since Americans Michael Chang and Pete Sampras in 1989.

Alcaraz also became the youngest man to beat a top-three opponent at the tournament since the ATP introduced its world ranking system in 1973.

After more than four hours on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Alcaraz told reporters: "I have not words to explain how I feeling right now.

"I just don't know what happened out there in the court. I can't believe that I beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in an epic match.

"For me it's a dream come true."

Amid comparisons with countryman Nadal, Alcaraz added: "Honestly I don't copy any style of a players. I just play my game.

"But if I have to say one player that is similar my game, I think it's [Roger] Federer. I think similar as mine game, trying to be aggressive all the time. I think it's a good similar for me."

After his US Open campaign came to a surprise end, third seed Tsitsipas tipped Alcaraz for future success.

"A hundred percent," Tsitsipas replied when asked if he had a sense of Alcaraz's potential. "I said he can be a contender for Grand Slam titles. He has the game to be there."

"I've never seen someone hit the ball so hard," French Open runner-up Tsitsipas added. "Took time to adjust. Took time to kind of develop my game around his game style.

"It's one of these matches and one of these feelings where, you know, you pick up at some point of the match, you feel like you're in control, and it doesn't really go your way at the end.

"It's kind of bitter, I would say, especially after such an incredible first set by my side, dominating, being just so aggressive, not dwelling on the past. It was a great first set.

"I don't know. I felt like he played the fifth one completely -- the way he played the first set basically, careless, going for every single shot. I have never seen someone play such a good fifth set, honestly."

Novak Djokovic welcomed the ongoing 'GOAT' discussion alongside Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer after the world number one took another step towards an historic grand slam title at the US Open.

Djokovic, Nadal and Federer share the most men's slams in history with 20 but the former has the chance to break the record at Flushing Meadows, where the top seed dismantled unheralded Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor 6-2 6-3 6-2 in the second round on Thursday.

Serb star Djokovic is also bidding to become just the third man to complete a calendar Grand Slam and the first to sweep all four majors in a year since Rod Laver in 1969.

It is widely debated who is the greatest player of all time among Djokovic, Nadal and Federer – the latter two are both absent from this year's US Open due to injury.

After reaching the third round in New York, Djokovic was asked who the better player on a neutral surface is, given Nadal's clay-court dominance and Federer's grass-court expertise.

"It's difficult to say who is better. Three of us, we're all so different. We have different styles," Djokovic said during his post-match news conference.

"We have different trajectories or journeys to where we are at this moment. We all had tremendous success, some more particularly on one surface, some the other surface.

"We do complement each other. I think the rivalry between the big three, so to say, it's phenomenal for our sport.

"So the more traction, the more conversation there is around the three of us, the GOAT discussion, et cetera, the better in general for our sport. I hope people still keep on talking about it."

Djokovic added: "I think actually one of the best I think images that I've ever seen from tennis is them [Nadal and Federer] playing on a half-grass, half-clay court.

"I thought that was fantastic. Whoever came up with the idea was genius. As a tennis fan, I enjoyed that very much."

Djokovic hit 33 winners, fired down 13 aces and broke six times throughout a dominant performance against Griekspoor under the Arthur Ashe Stadium lights.

The 34-year-old also improved to 53-1 against non-top 100 opponents at majors, while he is now 13-0 against them at the US Open.

Kei Nishikori awaits Djokovic, who owns a 17-2 head-to-head record against the 2014 US Open runner-up.

"We played many times. I have very good score against him," Djokovic said of Nishikori. "I lost I think last time here in New York in semis in 2014. Historically I think his most successful grand slam is here. He's one of the quickest and most-talented players that I've seen in my lifetime, in my career.

"I think it's important for me to serve well and try to take off the pace a little bit because he likes the pace. He likes to hit the ball early, protect the line. But I know his game well. We played in Olympic Games. I know what's expecting me. I look forward to a good challenge."

Novak Djokovic has history in his sights as he begins his US Open quest; after three grand slam titles in 2021, a fourth beckons at Flushing Meadows.

Rod Laver was the last man to achieve a sweep of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open singles in the same year, all the way back in 1969.

Steffi Graf won all four on the women's side in 1988, and it seemed a knock-in that Serena Williams would do likewise in 2015 when she headed to the US Open with three majors already bagged.

But winning any title at that level is never easy, and Williams famously came unstuck when she faced Roberta Vinci in the semi-finals.

Djokovic will be mindful that what seems an inevitability to the outside world remains very much still only a possibility. After his US Open tribulations last year, and a recent jolt at the Olympics, he will know anything can happen.

Here, Stats Perform looks at how Djokovic's situation at Flushing Meadows carries most of the hallmarks of Serena's own position as she headed into the tournament six years ago.

 

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE SLAMS

It was not always this way, but Djokovic has reached the point in his career when he can choose targets, decide which records he wants to break, and throw everything at those goals.

At the start of the year in Australia, he savoured triumphing at Melbourne Park for a ninth time and pointed to how Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Williams and Margaret Court had achieved so much.

"They've made history already," Djokovic said. "They made a tremendous mark in our sport. I'm trying to build that and develop that myself in a very unique, authentic way that is suitable to me.

"Whether I think about winning more slams and breaking records, of course. Of course, I do. And most of my attention and my energy from this day forward, until I retire from tennis, is going to be directed in majors, trying to win more major trophies."

It had very clear echoes of Williams in 2015, also in Australia, setting out her own ambitions for the year and specifically targeting the French Open and Wimbledon.

"Those are the two I really have my eye on, because I would like to do better at those. And I know I can do better," she said.

Williams set her heart and mind on that twin challenge and won both.

"I definitely am not going to play as much this year, and I'm just going to go for everything when I do play," said Williams.

 


BUILDING UP

When Williams reached New York in August 2015, she had delivered a 48-2 win-loss record for the season, landing each of the majors alongside the Miami Open and the Western and Southern Open. Petra Kvitova in Madrid and Belinda Bencic in Toronto had been the only two players to get the better of the 33-year-old Williams.

Djokovic has a 38-5 record for the year, albeit it has the feel of a more dominant year for the 34-year-old Serbian. Two of those losses came at the Olympics, in a semi-final and bronze medal match, and the other three came in his first three events on clay, losing to Dan Evans in Monte Carlo, Aslan Karatsev in Belgrade and Nadal in Rome.

When it mattered on clay, though, Djokovic majorly turned up in Paris, gutsily beating Lorenzo Musetti from two sets down in the fourth round, ending Nadal's streak of four Roland Garros titles by sinking the Spaniard in the semi-finals, and then leaving Stefanos Tsitsipas devastated in the final, with another fightback after dropping the first two sets.

Wimbledon followed, and Djokovic by then was openly targeting a Golden Slam – each major and the Olympic title.

Much like with Williams and her loss to Bencic in the Toronto semi-finals six years ago, however, Djokovic showed he was fallible as history beckoned. From a set up, he lost to Alexander Zverev at Tokyo 2020, a blow that was compounded by missing out on bronze when Pablo Carreno Busta sprang another shock.

 


HISTORY CAN BE A FIERCE OPPONENT

Williams and Djokovic have won non-calendar Grand Slams before, winning four in succession spanning two seasons.

Williams first achieved that from the French Open in 2002 to the Australian Open in 2003, and in 2015 she was aiming for five slams in a row at the US Open, having begun her dominant streak at her home grand slam the previous year.

She won the first set of the semi-final against Vinci, the world number 43, but was then second best to the Italian, with Williams saying her conqueror "played literally out of her mind".

But the disappointment was stark, underlined by Williams' terse response to the question of how disappointed she felt by the result.

"I don't want to talk about how disappointing it is for me," she said. "If you have any other questions, I'm open for that."

The four-in-a-row feat has only been performed once by Djokovic, from Wimbledon in 2015 to the French Open in 2016. Had he not been disqualified during the US Open last year for carelessly hitting a ball that struck a line judge, he would most likely currently be on a four-slam streak.

Those who win the first three slams of the year often do complete the set, but there are four instances of singles players falling one short by failing in the year's last major.

Before Williams, the most recent case was Martina Navratilova in 1984, when the imperious left-hander headed to the Australian Open – then played at the end of the year rather than the start – in pursuit of the Grand Slam. She lost to Helena Sukova in the semi-finals, and said: "If I'd have won, I'd have done it all. If I lost I had to start from scratch. Both are hard to cope with."

Navratilova had won 74 consecutive matches until that loss and ended the season with a 78-2 record.

In the men's game, Jack Crawford (1933) and Lew Hoad (1956) also fell short, both losing in finals of the US National Championships, the tournament that became the US Open. Don Budge (1938) and Laver (1962 and 1969) are the only men to have won a calendar Grand Slam in singles.

The weight of expectation is immense for Djokovic as he pursues what would be his crowning glory, not only sealing the Grand Slam but reaching 21 majors, one ahead of Nadal and Federer and into the outright lead in the men's game. The prospect cannot be ignored, and it will be a heavy burden to carry over the coming fortnight.

As Djokovic said on Friday: "I would be lying if I said that’s not something that I’m thinking about or that my attention is not going that way.

"I’m very motivated to play my best tennis. But I have to hit one ball at a time, as they say, try to be in the moment, have a guiding star in a way, a dream to win a slam here."

Rafael Nadal was "practically lame" before he called an early end to his season and has been "stumbling all year round", coach Carlos Moya has revealed.

Former world number one and 20-time grand slam winner Nadal will miss the upcoming US Open but hopes to return in 2022, yet Moya says there are question marks over what the best course of treatment will be for the 35-year-old's foot problem.

In announcing his withdrawal from the rest of the campaign, Nadal declared a foot issue that he has been bothered by since 2005 was behind his decision.

The Spaniard took a break after losing a French Open semi-final to Novak Djokovic, skipping Wimbledon and the Olympic Games.

He attempted to make a return for the hard-court season but lost his second match in Washington to South African Lloyd Harris.

Moya, who was also briefly a world number one, said Nadal had managed to prolong a career that was in doubt 16 years ago, thanks to insoles and treatment.

"But this year the story has changed in many training sessions," Moya said. "He could not finish them and we had to change and ease intensity for the foot, thinking about the tournaments.

"He has been in pain for months and there comes a time when he cannot take it anymore. In the last match he played practically lame.

"The best thing was to stop, rest the foot and refresh the head."

Speaking to Spanish broadcaster Onda Cero's El Transistor show, Moya said: "It is not known where this injury comes from. There is a diagnosis but it is not clear which is the best treatment.

"Rafa's main objective is to regain sensations in his feet and in his head, because stumbling all year round has not helped him."

Rafael Nadal has curtailed his 2021 ATP Tour season due to a long-term foot injury but insists he is working towards a return.

Nadal, 35, has played only twice since losing the French Open semi-final to Novak Djokovic in May.

The Spaniard skipped Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics and had withdrawn from this week's Western and Southern Open before the US Open.

Nadal will not now compete in the final major of the season either, while great rival Roger Federer is also out for an extended period.

It clears a path for Novak Djokovic – the third man tied on 20 grand slam titles – to win a record-breaking 21st championship at Flushing Meadows while completing a remarkable calendar Grand Slam.

Djokovic could yet have competition again in the years to come, though, as Nadal is not yet calling time on a glittering career.

In making his latest announcement on social media on Friday, Nadal revealed he has been dealing with his injury since 2005 but has not let it halt him yet.

"Hello everyone," he wrote on his Twitter page. "I wanted to inform you that unfortunately I have to end the 2021 season.

"Honestly, I've been suffering a lot more than I should with my foot for a year and I need to take some time.

"After having discussed it with the team and family, this decision has been made and I think it is the way forward to try to recover and recover well.

"It's a year that I've missed things that matter a lot to me, like Wimbledon, like the Olympics, how the US Open is going to be now, like many other events that are also important to me.

"And in view of the fact that during this last year I have not had the ability to train and prepare and compete in the way that I really like to do it, in the end, I come to the conclusion that what I need is time to recover, change a series of things, try to understand what has been the evolution of my foot in recent times.

"It is not a new injury, it is an injury that I have had since 2005 and it has not prevented me from developing my sports career during all these years.

"If it is true that I have had a season where things are not going as they should, as we would all like, it is time to make decisions, seek a slightly different type of treatment to find a solution to this problem or at least improve it in order to continue to have options for the next few years.

"I have the maximum enthusiasm and predisposition to do whatever it takes to recover the best possible form to keep competing for the things that really motivate me and the things that I've done all these years.

"I am convinced that with the recovery of the foot, and obviously a very important daily effort, this can be achieved. I will work as hard as I can to make it happen.

"Thank you in advance for all the support, understanding and all your expressions of affection that are very important and more in difficult times like these.

"I promise you what I am going to do is work hard to try to continue enjoying this sport for a while longer. A big hug to all."

Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas survived three-set scares at the National Bank Open on Tuesday, but five-time tournament champion Rafael Nadal departed Toronto without even taking the court. 

Top seed Medvedev, who won just three games against Nadal in the final in 2019, the last time the tournament was played, prevailed 4-6 6-3 6-4 in his opener against Alexander Bublik.

The man Nadal beat to win the title the previous year, Tsitsipas, failed to convert on five match points in an epic second-set tiebreak but recovered to down Ugo Humbert 6-3 6-7 (13-15) 6-1.

Nadal pulled out ahead of a scheduled match against Lloyd Harris, who beat him last week in Washington as the 20-time grand slam winner struggled with a foot injury. 

Countryman Feliciano Lopez replaces Nadal in the draw and will face Harris on Wednesday. 

Elsewhere Tuesday, sixth seed Casper Ruud needed more than two hours to put away Marin Cilic 6-3 3-6 6-3, while 14th seed Grigor Dimitrov suffered a quick 6-3 6-4 exit against big-serving American Reilly Opelka.

A pair of unseeded veterans advanced, with 2016 finalist Kei Nishikori a 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 winner over Miomir Kecmanovic and John Isner defeating Alejandro Davidovich Fokini 6-4 6-1 in just over an hour.

Two days after appearing in his first ATP Tour final at the Citi Open, Mackenzie McDonald fell 6-3 6-4 to Benoit Paire in his Toronto opener. 

In other first-round matches, Karen Khachanov beat Cameron Norrie 6-4 5-7 6-4, Frances Tiafoe downed Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4 6-3, Dusan Lajovic handled Emil Ruusuvuori 3-6 6-3 6-3 and Nikoloz Basilashvili defeated Jenson Brooksby 2-6 6-0 6-4.

Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the National Bank Open ahead of his opening match due to a left foot injury.

The Spaniard made a return to action on the ATP Tour last week at the Citi Open, his first outing since suffering defeat to Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of the French Open in June.

His comeback was aimed at getting prepared for the US Open but, having lost in the last 16 in Washington to Lloyd Harris, he will not now be participating in Toronto.

"I really wanted to play here a lot, but now is the moment to make a decision, and this is unfortunately the decision that I have taken," Nadal told the media.

"I have had this issue for a couple of months, as people know.

"Of course, it is not a happy situation after all the success that I had here in Canada, not being able to play this year after missing a year. It's a tough one, but that's how it is today."

Nadal skipped Wimbledon citing the need to recover after the clay season, while the left-hander also opted out of representing his country at the Tokyo Olympics.

The five-time champion in Toronto was scheduled for a repeat meeting with Harris in the second round. Instead, his place in the draw goes to compatriot Feliciano Lopez.

South African Lloyd Harris booked a second-round date with Rafael Nadal at the National Bank Open after a straight-sets win over Canadian qualifier Brayden Schnur on Monday.

World number 49 Harris eased past Ontario-born Schnur 6-3 6-2 in one hour and 17 minutes in Toronto.

Harris sent down nine aces, winning 78 per cent of points on his first serve, converting four from four break points on return.

Nadal is a five-time champion in Toronto, winning the previous two editions in 2018 and 2019.

Marin Cilic, who won his first title for three years in Stuttgart, beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-2 4-6 6-3 in two hours and 13 minutes.

The 32-year-old will face sixth seed Casper Ruud in the next round.

Fabio Fognini also needed three sets to progress, battling from behind to defeat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-7 (2-7) 6-2 6-4 to set up a meeting with Andrey Rublev.

Ugo Humbert impressed in his straight-sets defeat of Lorenzo Sonego and will next face third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, while qualifier James Duckworth beat Taylor Fritz to secure a showdown with Citi Open winner Jannik Sinner.

Alexander Bublik defeated Briton Dan Evans in straight sets to earn a second round meeting with top seed Daniil Medvedev, while Australian John Millman will face 11th seed Gael Monfils after beating Ricardas Berankis.

Reilly Opelka came from a set down to win over Australian Nick Kyrgios, while Tommy Paul also fought back to beat Canadian Vasek Pospisil.

This time, Rafael Nadal could not summon the third-set magic he needed.

Coming off an epic three-hour duel Wednesday in his first match since the French Open final, Nadal fell to Lloyd Harris 6-4 1-6 6-4 on Thursday at the Citi Open. 

After a short-lived maiden appearance at the Washington, D.C. tournament, the Spaniard will look ahead to Toronto and Cincinnati as he continues his preparations for the U.S. Open. 

Harris, meanwhile, heads to a quarter-final matchup against veteran Kei Nishikori after recording the biggest win of his career. 

Facing Nadal for the first time, the 24-year-old South African slammed 16 aces Thursday and saved four of six break points. 

The 20-time grand slam winner, who battled a foot injury to outlast Jack Sock in his first match, did not have enough to answer the world number 50 on Thursday.

In addition to the top-seeded Nadal's defeat, second seed Felix Auger-Aliassime also went down Thursday, falling 6-3 6-4 to American wild card Jenson Brooksby. 

With their exits, the tournament is now without its top four seeds. 

That leaves fifth seed Jannik Sinner as the top player remaining after he defeated Sebastian Korda 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-3). 

Nishikori advanced by downing seventh seed Cameron Norrie 3-6 6-3 6-3, while John Millman knocked out eighth seed Reilly Opelka 6-3 7-6 (7-4). 

Among unseeded players, Denis Kudla defeated the red-hot Brandon Nakashima 3-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-4, while Steve Johnston eased past Ricardas Berankis 6-2 6-1 and Mackenzie McDonald beat Illya Ivashka 6-4 6-4. 

In addition to Harris-Nishikori, Kudla will face McDonald in the other quarter-final in the top half of the draw, while Sinner meets Johnson and Millman takes on Brooksby in the bottom half. 

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