WATCH: When Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova Practiced Together at Italian Open

Published 05/12/2021, 9:11 AM EDT
Tennis – ATP 500 – Barcelona Open – Real Club de Tennis Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain – April 23, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal in action during his quarter final match against Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie REUTERS/Albert Gea

Though they are friends off court and do keep up even to this day, it wasn’t often that Rafael Nadal and former Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova found themselves on the opposite sides of a tennis court for practice. However, they did meet once for a practice hit, and it happened at the tournament which is currently the center of attraction for tennis fans all across the globe.


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An old video clip of the 13-time French Open champion and the five-time Grand Slam champion sparring in Rome has surfaced on streaming giant YouTube.

Rafael Nadal is seen trading his signature shots with Maria Sharapova


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In the footage, Nadal, with his signature baseball cap flipped front-side back, is seen in an intense practice session with the two-time French Open champion. Sharapova looks in fine fettle too as she gets into her trademark forehands and backhands against the ‘King of Clay’

The former Russian star reached the semifinals of the Italian Open in 2005 before losing to now-retired Swiss star Patty Schnyder. Sharapova would have become World No.1 for the first time had she won the last-four tie.

TORONTO, ON – AUGUST 05: Maria Sharapova of Russia hits a shot against Anett Kontaveit of Estonia during a first round match on Day 3 of the Rogers Cup at Aviva Centre on August 05, 2019, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

The clip shows the two stars striking it deep into each other’s court and testing each other out in a manner similar to a competitive match.

Looking at the footage once can’t but wonder the damage they could have done had they paired up for mixed doubles.

Nadal will open his Rome campaign this year against Jannik Sinner

Nadal, who will defend his 2020 title in Rome this year, has a tough road to glory this time as he has been drawn to play the Miami Open runner-up and home favorite Jannik Sinner in his tournament opener on Wednesday.

What makes his task even tougher is that he is coming off a sound defeat at the hands of Alexander Zverev, which put him out of the Madrid Open, a tournament he has won five times.

The German eventually went on to lift his second career title at the Spanish capital.

Earlier, the Spaniard had also bowed out of the Monte-Carlo Masters after losing to World No.7 Andrey Rublev in three sets.


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However, Nadal redeemed himself somewhat thereafter by winning a record 12th career title at the Barcelona Open.


Rafael Nadal Explains Why He Chose Tennis As a Career

6 months ago


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But the Madrid loss has set him back in his quest for the 14th French Open crown, and he needs to start well in Rome to put his flagging clay court season back on the rails.


Priyabrata Chowdhury

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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.