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Rafael Nadal returns to the US Open for the first time since he won the 2019 title in New York.

Nadal Ramping Up Intensity Ahead Of US Open

Spaniard preparing for second event since Wimbledon withdrawal

Treading lightly in Cincinnati as he returned from an abdominal tear, Rafael Nadal played just two practice sets before his appearance at the ATP Masters 1000, where he lost a three-setter to eventual champion Borna Coric in his opening match.

Ahead of the US Open, where he's set to compete for the first time since he won the 2019 title, the Spaniard is ramping up the intensity on the practice court in preparation for his bid for a record-extending 23rd Grand Slam singles title.

"I took it very easy in Cincinnati, in the practices," he said on Friday's US Open Media Day. "The match, I tried my best without putting all the effort there on the serve."

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In New York, practising in front of crowds during US Open Fan Week, Nadal has been hitting at full tilt.

"[I'm] taking care with the serve, being honest," he said, noting that the service motion can be "dangerous" and "risky" for his abdominal tear. "But in general terms, I am practising at a high level of intensity. I'm quite happy the way that I am playing. Of course, we need to compete later. But it's already two weeks on the Tour, even if only one match professional, official. But practising every day with the guys helps me, without a doubt. I played sets every day for the last five days. That helps, of course.

"Before Cincinnati I just played two sets there before the tournament started, so it's difficult.  Even if I had my chances [against Coric], the preparation had been not very long, but I gave myself a chance there. It was not possible [to win].  Let's try here again, with a better preparation.  From my perspective, I am practising quite well. Let's see what can happen, but I am happy with the practices."

Nadal has won the US Open four times, in 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2019, more than any other Slam outside of Roland Garros. Set for his 16th New York appearance, he will open against Australia's Rinky Hijikata on Tuesday evening in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"Happy to be back," he said. "Couple years without having the chance to be here since 2019.  Of course, [I'm] excited to play here. It's one of the most important places in my tennis career, without a doubt. So just looking for every single practice to be better and better, just be competitive from the first round. So let's see."

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