Rafael Nadal will swiftly move on from his surprise defeat to Borna Coric at the Western & Southern Open, as he aims for success at Flushing Meadows.

Nadal, who withdrew from his semi-final tie with Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon due to injury, returned to action in Cincinnati but lost 7-6 (11-9) 4-6 6-3 on Wednesday.

The 36-year-old has won four titles this year, but conceded he was nowhere near his desired level against Coric, who himself has only just returned from an injury enforced lay-off.

Yet Nadal is already switching focus to the US Open, a title he has won four times previously, most recently in 2019.

"You lose, you move forward. I know the way," he said in a press conference.

"The main thing for me is to stay healthy. It has been a difficult injury to manage, to be honest. The last month and a half hasn't been easy, because having a tear on the abdominal, you don't know when [you are] 100 per cent over the thing, so that affects a little bit in terms of not [being] sure if you are able to try your best in every serve.

"I need to move forward and just start to think about the energy that the crowd gives me in New York.

"I know it's a very special place for me, and I enjoy it. [I've had] unforgettable moments there, and I'm going to try my very best every single day to be ready for that."

Of his performance, Nadal said: "Obviously I didn't play my best match. [It is] something that can happen. Historically this tournament has been difficult for me.

"So coming back from a tough period of time, [it is] something that's easy to accept and easy to say congrats to Borna, that he played better.

"It's difficult to take a lot of positive things, but I need to improve. I need days [on the court], and that's the truth."

Nadal could have become the world number one heading into the US Open, had he won the Western & Southern Open and Daniil Medvedev had failed to make the quarter-finals.

Coric, meanwhile, will face Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round in Cincinnati.

"It has been very, very special," Coric said. "I was out for the last two years and I didn't play on the big stage in front of the crowd and everybody.

"I was honestly just looking forward to playing this match as I haven't had that in the last two years. Now that I won, it's kind of crazy."