Rafael Nadal: 'I always believed since I saw him play that...'



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Rafael Nadal: 'I always believed since I saw him play that...'

Some of the greatest tennis talents will compete in Washington, D.C. this week at the Citi Open. Leading the way is Spanish star Rafael Nadal, who makes his ATP 500 hard-court event debut. Top seed Nadal will be joined by #NextGenATP stars Felix Auger-Aliassime, Jannik Sinner and Sebastian Korda, as well as Australians Alex de Minaur and Nick Kyrgios.

1) Nadal Debuts: Nadal is making his debut in Washington and will top the table as the top seed. The 35-year-old guest will aim to capture a tour-level No. 89 title in the United States capital. The legendary southpaw has already lifted trophies this season in Barcelona and Rome.

It will be Nadal's first tournament since he reached the Roland Garros semi-finals in June, and he will play either American Jack Sock or Japanese left-hander Yoshihito Nishioka in his first match. 2) Felix In Shape: #NextGenATP star Auger-Aliassime arrives in Washington after a strong grass court season.

The 20-year-old reached his eighth ATP Tour final at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart and advanced to his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Wimbledon. The Canadian suffered a surprise loss to Australian Max Purcell in the first round of the Tokyo Olympics, but he hopes to get back on the winning track when he makes his second appearance at this ATP 500 event.

In 2019, Auger-Aliassime reached the knockout stages in Washington.

Rafael Nadal praises Sebastian Korda

Ahead of his return to competitive action, the World No. 3 trained with American youngster Sebastian Korda on Sunday. And Rafael Nadal was left impressed with the 21-year-old's game, especially how complete and well-rounded it is.

"[His game has a] good physical look, good serve, good shots from the baseline," Rafael Nadal told the ATP Tour. "I think he's a great guy, [a] complete player. He has a lot of things to do in the next years in our sport."

Rafael Nadal and Sebastian Korda have faced each other once before - in the fourth round of Roland Garros 2020. Nadal defeated Korda 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 in that match before going on to lift the trophy. "I think I always believed since I saw him play that he is going to have the chance to be one of the best players of the world," Nadal said.

"Let's see. It’s always the same. I think he has all the things that he needs to definitely be a top guy. Of course, things are not easy and you need to keep improving. But I definitely believe, if you ask me, that he [is] going to be a great one."