The Russian is enjoying another week at the top of the ATP rankings
Russia's Daniil Medvedev has begun his 11th week as world number one but has identified Spanish rival Rafael Nadal as the primary threat to his bid to end the year at the pinnacle of the ATP rankings.
Medvedev, 26, is gearing up for a return to action on his favored hard court surface this week as he competes for the first time at the Los Cabos Open in Mexico.
Beyond that, the Russian heads to Canada for the National Bank Open, where he is the reigning champion and has 1,000 rankings points to defend
The biggest test of the North American swing will come in New York as Medvedev seeks to retain his US Open crown, with the tournament getting underway on August 29.
Medvedev currently has a 775-point cushion in the ATP charts ahead of the injured Alexander Zverev of Germany in second, while Nadal is third and a full 1,460 points adrift.
Nonetheless, the Spaniard has claimed two of the three Grand Slam titles on offer thus far year, and Medvedev has named the 36-year-old as the biggest threat to his hopes of ending 2022 in top spot.
"For sure I'm watching [the battle for number one] a little bit," Medvedev told the ATP website.
"It depends also the moment because I know at the end of the year, unless I try to win every tournament that is left, it's probably going to be Rafa [Nadal] for [year-end number one].
"But at the same time, I can keep it for quite a long time I feel like if I play good here in the [North American hard-court swing]," added the Russian.
Medvedev has already overtaken former star Marat Safin as the Russian male to spend most time at the top of the ATP ratings, and is inside the top 20 overall in terms of the men's all-time list.
After being forced to miss Wimbledon due to the ban on Russian and Belarusian players - although not missing out on rankings points after the ATP stripped the tournament of ratings in response - Medvedev will target a maiden Los Cabos crown and will enter from the second round.
"I know that the most important is to try to win tournaments, try to win those points," added Medvedev. "Then you can keep [the world number one sport]...
"Every opponent can be tough so the more matches you win, the more confidence you gain, the more you start feeling your game better, what you have to do better, so that's what I'm going to try to do here in Los Cabos," Medvedev said as he aims to build form ahead of Canada and New York.
One man missing during the North American stage of the season will be Novak Djokovic, whom Medvedev defeated in last year's US Open final.
The Wimbledon champion will not be allowed entry into the US because he is unvaccinated against Covid-19.
That has prompted petitions from Djokovic's fans as well as members of the Serbian community in the US.
American tennis icon John McEnroe has called the situation "ridiculous," accusing politicians of "getting in the way too much."