Rafael Nadal prioritising his body over results in Cincinnati

As Rafael Nadal prepares to get underway at the Western & Southern Open, the Spaniard is aware of the bigger picture.

With Nadal having reached that time in his career when he's forced to choose quality over quantity, the Cincinnati Masters 1000 event will arguably be seen as a US Open tune-up event for Nadal.

The 36-year-old is coming off an abdominal injury that forced him to withdraw after winning his Wimbledon quarter-final in July.

It's been a long recovery for the world number three, who admitted he'll be focusing less on the scoreboard and more on his body on the hard courts of Cincinnati.

After all, in the bigger picture is a run at a 23rd grand slam title at Flushing Meadows in just two weeks' time.

"The main thing is to stay healthy and finish the season playing the events that I want to play," said Nadal ahead of his opening round match against Borna Coric, as per atptour.com.

"I will not play more than what I believe will work well for my body to achieve this goal, but I am going to put all my efforts into every single event that I play.

"I do that all the time - it doesn't matter whether I have the chance to be No. 1 or not. But I'm happy to be in this privileged position. If for some reason that happens, it will be amazing.

"You need to know that when you come back after a while things aren't going to be better.

"You can't expect to play at an amazing level from the beginning.

"Knowing that, accepting that, you have to be able to be humble enough to fight with the tools that you have at the beginning to win the first match.

"In the Masters 1000s, the opponents are very demanding from the beginning."

Nadal isn't wrong about the "amazing level", as Coric has a 2-2 head-to-head record against the indomitable Spaniard.

Then if all hold seed, Nadal will face rising star Carlos Alcaraz as early as the quarter-finals.

At the other end of the draw is world number one Daniil Medvedev, who Nadal beat in a five-set thriller in the Australian Open final in January.

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