Rafael Nadal says he’ll focus on the foes in front of him at the ATP Montreal Masters this week, and not on his chance to return to number one in the world.
A semi-final run in Montreal would see the Spaniard supplant Britain’s Andy Murray atop the rankings.
“I don’t even think about that now,” Nadal said of number one. “I’m trying to have the right preparation now and that’s it.
“I’m going to keep trying to play the way I did in the first part of the season, so if I’m able to make that happen, I hope to have a chance to do well.”
The top seed is expected to open his campaign for a fourth Canadian title on Wednesday with a second-round meeting against either Croatian Borna Coric or Russian lucky loser Mikhail Youzhny.
Murray is among the notable absentees from this key US Open tuneup. Novak Djokovic is taking off the rest of the season to rehab an elbow injury and US Open champion Stan Wawrinka has ended his 2017 campaign with a knee problem.
Murray is trying to recover from a nagging hip injury in time for the final Grand Slam of the season that starts later this month in Flushing Meadows.
Nadal claimed his 10th French Open title this year but bowed out in the fourth round at Wimbledon — his fifth exit before the quarter-finals in his last five appearances at the All England Club.
Roger Federer, who seized his 19th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, is also slated to open on Wednesday.
Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina was due to open the night session against 14th-seeded American John Isner.
Isner won back-to-back titles in Newport and Atlanta in July before withdrawing from last week’s tournament in Washington with knee trouble.
In early matches on Monday, Australia’s Nick Kyrgios romped past Serbian Viktor Troicki 6-1, 6-2.
Kyrgios, seeded 16th, had retired from his three previous matches — at Queen’s Club, Wimbledon and Washington.
He was battling a left hip injury when he pulled out of the two grass court events in London, while in Washington last week he was booed off the court when he quit against 106th-ranked American Tennys Sandgren with a right shoulder injury.
Kyrgios showed no sign of any physical problems on Monday, but then he was barely tested in the 51-minute win against Troicki, never facing a break point. He broke Troicki twice in each set and served eight aces to the Serb’s two.
Kyrgios said he’s still feeling the injuries, but hopes to play through them with the US Open approaching.
“I just have to keep doing the right things,” he said. “I’m getting a lot of treatment, trying to do my rehab every day. I’m doing everything I can.”
France’s Gael Monfils shook off a slow start to beat American Steve Johnson 2-6, 7-6 (7/1), 6-1.
France’s Benoit Paire also advanced, downing American Donald Young 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, but rising French star Lucas Pouille fell 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (10/8) to American Jared Donaldson.
Monfils was broken twice in a sluggish first set, but gradually found his range, firing 11 aces and saving the only other two break points he faced in the one-hour, 38-minute victory.
“At 4-3 in the second set I startedthe ball in the court. I was able to move better,” said Monfils who had his knees taped during the second set. “I was able to make it more difficult for him. From then on, I was able to get some more opportunities and I was able to make him have some doubts.”