Nadal: Return to number one would be something beautiful

Rafael Nadal admitted a return to the summit of the ATP Tour rankings would be beautiful but the 15-time grand slam champion insisted he is solely focused on his third-round matchup at Wimbledon.

Nadal’s last stint as world number one was in July 2014 but the Spaniard will return to the top of the rankings at the expense of Andy Murray if he reaches a sixth Wimbledon final, after claiming a record 10th French Open crown in June.

The 31-year-old, however, still has plenty of work to do against Russian 30th seed Karen Khachanov, having accounted for Donald Young 6-4 6-2 7-5 on Wednesday.

“Difficult for me to think about that now. I’m just in the third round and I am happy the way that I am playing. That’s all,” Nadal told reporters.

“Of course it’s better to be number one than be number two or be number five, of course. No doubt about that. With that, I don’t have doubts [smiling].

“But at the same time, I just do my way. I said a lot of times, but at this moment of my career, ranking of course is important because it’s another part of our tour. For sure, for me, to have the chance to be back to number one is something beautiful.

“But for me the most important thing is to be happy. What make me happy feel myself, first thing healthy, second thing, competitive, and then if that happens, then I can fight for other things that really excites me. That’s all.

“Then if I keep playing the same level that I did the first six months of the season, then I hope to have my chances to be in a very high position of the ranking.”

While Nadal is the ‘King of Clay’, playing on grass is a completely different proposition for the tennis great.

Despite reigning supreme twice at the All England Club – in 2008 and 2010 – Nadal has failed to progress beyond the fourth round since 2012.

Nadal was absent last year but prior to that, he had a fourth-round appearance in 2014, two second-round losses in 2015 and 2012 and a first-round exit in 2013.

Without a quarter-final outing since 2011, Nadal was asked if he was confident of ending his drought this year and the veteran said: “For the moment, third round. That’s all [I’m focusing on]. You never know. Grass is a different surface. Things change quick [snapping fingers].

“I think I am doing the right things. I feel myself playing well. Now I have tough opponent in front of me like Khachanov. Going to be a tough match for me. I hope to be ready to keep playing well. It’s possible to improve a little bit more? I should be happy.

“I don’t know how deep I can go on the draw or not, but I really don’t think about that now. The only thing is I won another match here in Wimbledon. That means a lot to me. Happy tomorrow I have a practice day, and then after tomorrow again a match. That’s all. That’s my route and just try to follow.”

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