The grass court season is having one last show this week in Newport (ATP 250) as the season smoothly sails into the North American hard court swing where the men's tour could see its ranks changed. Despite ending his Wimbledon bid in the fourth round of the tournament, Rafael Nadal got even closer to becoming the highest ranked player in the world. Now that Roger Federer won the contest, the battle at the top is even tighter.

On the other hand, the hard swing will be a great opportunity for The Spaniard to test his progress this season. A solid first hard swing and then a dominant display of power during the European clay court season put him up in the favorites' list.

And perhaps, he might have the chance to give a proper response to Roger Federer given the fact that the Swiss tennis star outplayed him on three occasions earlier this season ( all matches were also on a hardcourt).

Rafael Nadal needs a smart schedule

For the time being, the 31-year-old Spaniard can brag about having a lot of success this season. Winning the 10th French Open of his career might have been the biggest one but he should consider the danger of a possible burnout. The numbers have Nadal with 53 matches already. Even if he does shrink his schedule he will probably play at least one big event prior to US Open.

Last year, the summer swing on the hard courts brought nothing but moderate success for Nadal.

But a lot of things have changed over the past year or so. Nadal is likely to feature in the Canadian Master and Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati as a warm-up for 2017 US Open. He will be in the upper box of the favorites thus avoiding a premature clash with other big names before the semis.

As Roger Federer did, Nadal took an extended break last year in order to give his injured wrist a proper chance to fully recover.

It seemed that it worked and Nadal has been seen playing at his best. Still, an injury-free body is not a perpetual guarantee. Eventually, an extended schedule will take its toll one way or another.

Nadal has a booked spot in the ATP Finals

There is no doubt that Nadal and Federer are the dominant players of the moment. With Djokovic and Murray both struggling with injuries and low form, this status quo is unlikely to suffer any disruption soon.

Ranked first in the ATP Race, Nadal already secured a spot for the ATP Finals, one of the relevant ATP tournaments he has never won yet. Next in line is Federer who has also secured his slot in the Finals by winning his eighth Wimbledon recently. And that brings us to the same old rivalry with Nadal vs Federer as the paramount clash of modern tennis.