Nadal could become number one here in Cincinnati

Rafael Nadal learned tonight after beating Germany's Tommy Haas 6-4, 7-6

that if he wins the tournament here in Cincinnati he will attain the number one ranking on Sunday.  If he doesn't take the title, he'll still be number one before the U.S. Open.

Nadal has never gone farther than the quarterfinals here in four previous attempts to win.  But then again, he's never come into the tournament as the dominant number one player in the world before either.  While he served up two embarrassing double faults in a row to end up in a tiebreaker with Haas, it's his serve that's been a major reason he's a different player this year on the tour.  "My serve has made the difference, but not tonight," he said.

Rafa says he loves the fans in Cincinnati and added a "Thank you very much!" to the crowds here.

Having sat 15 feet away from the Nadal and Federer during their matches today on center court, I have to say that their intensity levels are worlds apart.  I realize they're totally different personalities, but Nadal's confidence and intensity – from his trademark prize fighter-esque jumping around during the coin toss to his fist pumping throughout the matches show he's capable of steamrolling over the competition no matter who's on the other side of the net.

While his score tonight seems relatively close (6-4, 7-6) in person, it was painfully obvious that this was no real contest.  Haas was able to pull off some good shots, but Nadal never really looked pressed. The only reason he ended up in a tiebreaker in the second set was a temporary loss of concentration resulting in two uncharacteristic double faults.  Bottom line: Nadal is the player to beat this week – and for the rest of the foreseeable future.

Fox-19's Steve Oldfield is also an avid tennis player, coach and fan.  He competes in the open division of the Men's 40's division of the United States Tennis Association and he coaches the girl's team at Villa Madonna Academy.  Steve has been going to the ATP tournament in Cincinnati since 1979.

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