Rafa Nadal (left) with Ben Stiller (right) and friends in New York. | Instagram

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Rafa Nadal has not been wasting any time in New York.
Tonight he played his first round match and the Mallorcan has been relaxing in the Big Apple in between training.

The tennis legend posted a snapshot on Instagram on Monday of him enjoying dinner with a group of friends, including actor and film director Ben Stiller: “Fun dinner with my team and friends. All good before the tournament starts,” Nadal wrote.

Tennis’s ultimate fighter Rafa Nadal hopes to be ready for stiff competition at the U.S. Open after seeing little action due to the serious abdominal injury he suffered at Wimbledon.

The 22-times Grand Slam winner was forced to retire from his semi-final against Nick Kyrgios at the All England Club this year and told reporters that the road to recovery presented enormous challenges. “(It) is a tough injury because it’s dangerous, it’s risky. When you have a scar it’s a place that you put a lot of effort when you are serving,” said Nadal, who is seeded second.

“You need to find flexibility again because when you have a scar there (at the) beginning it’s not flexible ... The risk of breaking when you are doing an important movement back there on a thing that is not flexible like before, the risk is higher.”

The Mallorcan withdrew from Montreal before losing in his Cincinnati opener to Borna Coric, further clouding the outlook for him to try to claim a fifth title at Flushing Meadows.

The 36-year-old, who is competing at the U.S. Open for the first time in three years, said he took it easy at the hardcourt tune-up event and was “doing things the best way that I can.”

“I hope to be ready for the action,” he added. “That’s the only thing I can say. I have what I have. With the tools I have today, I hope to be competitive enough to give myself a chance.”

Nadal could take the world number one spot from defending champion Daniil Medvedev but might run into compatriot Carlos Alcaraz in the bottom half of the draw as the 19-year-old bids for a maiden major title after winning in Madrid and Miami.

“I’m practising at a high level of intensity. I’m quite happy with the way I’m playing,” he said.
“From my perspective, I’m practising quite well. Let’s see what can happen.”