Stunning Rafa Nadal move takes tennis world by surprise

Rafa Nadal giving the thumbs up after he won the US Open.
Rafa Nadal is set to play the US Open after he entered next month's Western & Southern Open in New York. (Getty Images)

Current US Open champion Rafa Nadal has surprisingly opted to play at next month's Western & Southern Open in New York, the opposite of Aussie Ash Barty, signalling his intention to take part at Flushing Meadows.

Nadal did not appear set to take part at the US Open after doubt from long-time trainer Uncle Toni.

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Videos also surfaced of the 19-time Grand Slam champ training on clay, leading plenty of people to presume he was going to concentrate on the French Open a few weeks later.

But the current champ, alongside World No.1 Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams have all entered next month's Western & Southern Open in New York, which will serve as a tune-up for the US Open, tournament organisers said on Wednesday.

Even former player, turned commentator, Rennae Stubbs thought Nadal was set to miss the US Opena fter speaking on her podcast The Racquet Magazine.

“It is a little bit of worry when you see that Rafa is practicing on clay. So that is not a good sign,” she added.

“But Serena obviously said she is coming, Bianca Andreescu will be coming, former champion Osaka will be coming.”

It was no surprise Djokovic has signed up, after his request for US Open balls to be sent to him.

Djokovic initially had reservations on travelling to the US with just one team member, but the entourage has now been upgraded to three.

Six-time US Open champion Williams is the highest-profile player in the women's draw, which is missing Australia's world No.1 Ashleigh Barty and world No.2 Simona Halep.

Organisers of the August 20-28 event, which was relocated from Cincinnati this year because of COVID-19, said defending champions Daniil Medvedev and Madison Keys.

Strong field alongside Nadal, Djokovic

The ATP Masters 1000 event will be the first on the men's calendar since play was suspended in March because of the virus.

Among the other early entries on the men's side, which includes 40 of the top 43 ranked ATP players, are World No.3 Dominic Thiem, 2017 champion Grigor Dimitrov and Marin Cilic (2016).

World No.3 Karolina Pliskova, who won the event in 2016, is the highest-ranked player on the women's side that will feature 39 of the top 53 players in the world.

The women's WTA Tour will signal the return of the professional circuit with the Palermo Ladies Open in the Sicilian capital from Monday.

With AAP