'Rafael Nadal was my favorite player and...', says ATP ace



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'Rafael Nadal was my favorite player and...', says ATP ace

A much more painful return than expected after months of hiatus. Rafael Nadal returns to Washington and beats American Jack Sock in the decisive tiebreak. Very complicated challenge for the Spaniard who plays with obvious foot problems in still very difficult conditions, dominates the first set and then drops, in the second set it is the break in the seventh game with Sock who has three set points on Nadal's serve in the ninth game but closes after 6-4.

In the third set things get immediately bad with Sock going 2-0, a complicated situation for Rafa who reacts with his tenacity and brings the match to the decisive tiebreak, then closing with a clear 7 to 1. In the next round he will challenge the South African Harris, winner thanks to retirement against Tennys Sandgren.

Opelka opens up on Rafael Nadal

Reilly Opelka recently claimed that Rafael Nadal has been his favorite player since his childhood and that he considers the Spaniard to be the "greatest" Opelka further revealed that Nadal used to be his inspiration when he played dress-up on Halloween in the past.

Even though Reilly Opelka admitted to "idolizing" Rafael Nadal, he stressed that he no longer behaves like a fanboy around the Spaniard. "We have grown up idolizing these players (but) I no longer tell you about asking him for a selfie at the end of the match," Opelka said.

"We have to draw a line on these issues. I have the utmost respect for Rafa, he is the greatest, he was my favorite player and always will be, but the day we played I entered the court and tried to beat him." In a tweet, Jessica Pegula hailed Nadal as one of the greatest players of all time.

Impressed by Nadal’s never-say-die attitude despite reeling under pain, the American tennis player applauded the fighting qualities of the Spaniard. “Nadal one of the goats, limping around, but fighting with everything he has to win this match.

Nobody does it better,” said Pegula. Interestingly, this year’s Australian Open finalist, Jennifer Brady, commented on Pegula’s tweet and referred to Nadal as her sporting idol. “#idol” wrote Brady, expressing her fondness for Nadal.

With the victory, Nadal bettered his flawless win-loss record against Sock to 6-0. Up next, the Spaniard faces the South African, Lloyd Harris, in the third round of the ATP 500 event. It would be the first time Nadal would play against the 24-year-old Harris.