John McEnroe tips Nadal to win first US title next month
The Spaniard, who won his second Wimbledon title with a straight-sets win over Tomas Berdych on Sunday and also has five French Open victories and one Australian Open win to his name, plans to take a month off back home in Mallorca before beginning his preparations for the last major of the season, which begins on 30 August.
McEnroe believes getting a proper rest now is the best way to prepare for Flushing Meadow, where Nadal has so far got no further than the semi-finals, having been knocked out at that stage by Andy Murray in 2008 and Juan Martin del Potro last year.
"Nadal wants to win the US Open so badly," McEnroe told the ATP Champions Tour website (www.atpchampionstour.com). "It'd be hard not to pick him at this time even though he's never won it.
"The guy's just an animal. He's mentally and physically incredible and he can definitely do it if he's in this shape. The conditions in New York don't suit Nadal so well and he needs to make his body hold up. So I think after Wimbledon he is going to take some time off and get his knees recovered and then maybe not play too many matches before the Open."
Having been king of clay for so long, Nadal has now shown his mastery of grass with a run of 14 wins at Wimbledon between the 2008 tournament and this year's - injury prevented him from defending his title in 2009. Just as Roger Federer felt incomplete until he had won at Roland Garros, so Nadal is painfully conscious of the gap in his CV.
With eight Slams to his name compared to the Swiss player's 16, the world No 1 still has some way to go before getting close to his greatest rival's overall record. Federer has been written off in some quarters after losing to Berdych in the Wimbledon quarter-finals, and is down to No 3 in the new world rankings - the first time since 2003 that he has fallen out of the top two.
But McEnroe thinks that, at 28, Federer is far from finished. "Federer's done so amazingly well that anything but a win is almost considered a bad tournament," said the American, who won seven slams himself. "But he's won the Australian Open and been in two other quarters at majors this year, and almost any other player would love that. It's inevitable at some stage, when you've won 16 and you've broken every record that maybe you lose that will at certain times. I think Federer is going to win a couple more majors, but you won't see him dominate the way he has before."
Novak Djokovic has replaced Federer at No 2. Murray remains at No 4.