“Stayed the Same”: Iga Swiatek Heaps Praise on Idol Rafael Nadal

Published 02/28/2021, 4:47 AM EST
Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 15, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his fourth round match against Italy’s Fabio Fognini REUTERS/Kelly Defina


Reigning French Open champion Iga Swiatek has heaped gilted praise on superstar Rafael Nadal, saying though she didn’t follow much tennis in her early years, the Spaniard was the one who “fascinated” her the most.

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In an interview with a German publication, the 19-year-old Pole revealed her admiration for the 20-time Grand Slam champion, saying that while he has inspired a whole generation of players, including herself, with his incredible exploits in the game, she respects him more for the person that he is.

Iga Swiatek says she loves the energy Rafael Nadal plays with

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Swiatek, who clinched her maiden Tour title at the WTA Adelaide International on Saturday, said that if there’s one quality that makes Nadal stand out in the game, it’s his humility.

She added that all the success and the fame and wealth that have gone his way haven’t changed the Spaniard one bit. “He’s humble and has stayed the same guy he was before winning so many titles,” the World Number 18 said.

(Quotes have been translated with Google Translate)

Iga Swiatek of Poland celebrates after winning a point during her Women’s Singles fourth round match against Anett Kontaveit of Estonia on day eight of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 27, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Sharing more details about her idol worship of Nadal in her early teens and before, the Polska said she “loved the way he looks and the energy he plays with.”

Iga Swiatek says she emulates Rafael Nadal’s style of play

Swiatek, who shared the champion’s podium with her idol at the Roland-Garros last year, said that she has borrowed more than a snatch of Nadal’s style of play as she likes “hitting the balls with a lot of topspin.”

Groundstrokes laced with a generous dose of topspin have for long been one of the features of Nadal’s game. She added that even her trainer noted that aspect of her game and told her to hone and harness it, as it is a skill that will “one day” be a “great strength.”

Swiatek also quoted her trainer as saying “it was unusual for a girl” to have acquired the skill and she should focus on turning it into a signature weapon going forward.

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There was that topspin and a lot more that was on show against World Number 12 Belinda Bencic at the Memorial Drive Centre Court in Adelaide on Saturday, as the Pole blitzed her way to the title.

Unleashing a sizzling array of strokes off her handle, Swiatek put out an exhibition of sorts and ran out as the 6-2, 6-2 winner in the championship clash.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

820 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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