Roger Federer believes it will be "massive" if Rafael Nadal can eclipse Andy Murray as the world's top ranked men's singles player at the ongoing Rogers Cup in Montreal. And the 19-time men's singles Grand Slam champion is hoping that his long-time rival reaches the summit this week.
The Spaniard can achieve the top spot if he makes the semi-finals and is on course after moving into the third round with a comfortable 6-1, 6-2 win over Borna Coric. He faces Juan Martin Del Potro's conqueror Denis Shapovalov in the round of 16 and if he progresses to the quarter-finals he will face Hyeon Chung or Adrian Mannarino, who beat Milos Raonic in the second round.
Nadal has made a tremendous return in 2017 after struggling with a wrist injury in 2016 that saw him miss a number of tournaments and forced him to end his season pre-maturely in October. The 31-year-old has played in seven finals and won four tournaments including an unprecedented 10th title at Roland Garros.
Federer is aware of the struggles that his great rival has overcome as he too was sidelined with a knee injury that saw him miss the final five months of the 2016 season. The Swiss ace is also in the running to take over from Murray in the coming weeks, but Nadal is closer of the two to achieve world number one status. It will be the first time since 6 July, 2014 that the Spaniard will be ranked number one in the world.
If the 15-time men's singles Grand Slam champion does not achieve it this time around, he is certain to take over from Murray in the next event as the Scot has pulled out of the Cincinnati Masters which starts on 14 August.
"It would be absolutely massive," Federer said as quoted by Tennis World USA. "I remember when he was injured last year, and here he is a few matches away from clinching world No 1. It seems very far, yet it's very near so he just has to stay focused."
"I hope for him that he makes it, and if not I'm happy for Andy to get another week at No.1 because the run that he showed was tremendous – I have unbelievable respect for Andy. There will be a changing of the guard at world No 1 level, and I hope for Rafa he can get there," the 19-time men's singles Grand Slam winner added.