Rafael Nadal is a timeless legend who has met with crowds in every corner of the world. The Spanish champion was unable to be the protagonist as he would have wanted in 2021, due to a foot problem that affected a good part of his season. The former ATP number 1 began to feel severe pain during Roland Garros, where he was forced to surrender by Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. The Majorcan took a couple of months off while missing both Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics, but his attempt did not produce the desired effects. The 35-year-old from Manacor made a brief appearance on the Washington concrete, but it was clear from the start that his foot hadn’t healed. A few days later, the 20-time Grand Slam champion announced his decision to close his 2021 prematurely. Tennis fans know perfectly well that Iga Swiatek is a great admirer of the Iberian phenomenon. His dream of training with Rafa came true just this year at Roland Garros. Interviewed by the Tennis Channel after easily dismissing Petra Martic in Indian Wells, the Pole reiterated her enormous admiration for Nadal.
Iga Swiatek praises Rafael Nadal
“You know, like tennis-wise, I don’t think Rafael Nadal was playing 100%,” Swiatek said. “So well, first of all, I was just super excited because that was my birthday present from my psychologist.” Iga Swiatek went on to reveal that the session was a surprise, and that she was nervous at the start given how much she admires Rafael Nadal. “So I wasn’t expecting that at all,” Swiatek added. “I was pretty stressed at the beginning because I didn’t know if I would be able to talk to him normally or if I would stutter! So I learnt that he’s like a really normal guy and that’s the best part of it because it feels like the success didn’t change him. And he was like, he could laugh about his forehand, I mean come on, you have the best forehand out there so (laughs).” However, she added that the 20-time Major champion wasn’t as punishing when spreading the court with his angles. “It was just super nice, and I think when we were playing like from the middle, he was actually giving a lot of spin – maybe similar to what he is playing in a match,” Swiatek said. “But when he was spreading me out, he was for sure not playing 100% (laughs).”