Nadal targets No 1 ranking
Rafael Nadal is targeting victory at the US Open in the hope of finishing the season at the top of the world rankings.
The Spaniard's lengthy absence post-Wimbledon last year, which saw him miss both the US Open and Australian Open, means he has no ranking points to defend until February.
But with 2,000 points on offer for the winner at Flushing Meadows, Nadal could close the gap significantly on world No 1 Novak Djokovic if he was to collect his 13th grand slam title.
And Nadal said: "If I am number one, it will be an amazing, amazing season for me. If I am not number one, it still will be an amazing season for me.
"This tournament is going to make a big difference. After here I will say not everything will be decided, but things can be more clear or completely less clear."
The 27-year-old Mallorcan native heads into the tournament as the form player after an astonishing season on the hard courts.
Nadal, the 2010 champion in New York, has played in three Masters series events on hard courts and won the lot, most recently back-to-back in Montreal and Cincinnati.
Add to that six clay-court titles, including an eighth French Open, with the only blip a first round loss to Steve Darcis at Wimbledon.
But he has arrived in North America rested and healthy, with no strapping on his troublesome knee and moving superbly.
"It's true I'm trying to take the ball a little bit earlier, that I worked on my game. But it's true that in the past when I was playing well on this surface I had good success. So it's not something crazy that changed today," admitted Nadal, who takes on American Ryan Harrison in his opening round clash.
"It was a very tough match against Novak (Djokovic) in Montreal - anyone can win the match. Then I had a very tough one against Roger (Federer) in Cincinnati. Anyone can win that match. It was lucky that I won both."