Beijing, Jul 30: With only a week and a half to go until the Beijing Olympics, Rafael Nadal is gearing up t o give his best in the quadrennial event.
Nadal this year won his first title at Masters Series Hamburg, his fourth successive Roland Garros title and his first grass-court title at Queen's Club, and most importantly, the Wimbledon where he beat Swiss world number one Roger Federer in an epic match. His winning streak extended to Toronto Masters whereas women's doubles team Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual took the Slovenia Open last week.
The 22-year-old Nadal, who has ranked No. 2 for a record 157 weeks, will become the new No. 1 next Sunday if he wins the title at the Masters series in Cincinnati and Federer loses before the semi-finals.
"Every player wants to be No. 1. I am No. 2 right now because in front of me there is an amazing player like Federer," said Nadal, having played men's doubles with Carlos Moya at Athens four years ago.
Nadal, will head a strong Spanish line-up including fourth-ranked David Ferrer, Nicolas Almagro (12th) and Tommy Robredo (16th). Nadal will also play doubles with Robredo.
"Well, it's always a special tournament, and there are special feelings because you are representing your country. You are in the Olympic Village, so it's always very nice to be with the rest of the sportsmen of the world," Nadal told the ITF's official website.
With 29 straight wins since early May, Nadal has become a strong favourite for the men's title.
In contrast, Federer's crown has lost its lustre and an Olympic gold would be greatly welcomed by the king of men's tennis.
The world number one turns 27 on the day of the Beijing opening ceremony and he will have to rediscover his game.
"The bigger picture is the Olympic Games and the US Open. Those are the places where I want to win," Federer told ATP's official website.
Federer in 2000 Olympics lost the semi-final to Tommy Haas and then let a bronze medal slip against Frenchman Arnaud Di Pasquale. Four years later he lost in the second round to Tomas Berdych.
“Last time was quite disappointing, losing in the second round but nevertheless, going there was one of the biggest experiences in life," the Swiss said in Toronto last week.