'I was surprised that Rafael Nadal said...', says WTA star

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'I was surprised that Rafael Nadal said...', says WTA star
'I was surprised that Rafael Nadal said...', says WTA star (Provided by Tennis World USA)

At last year's Australian Open, the crowd in Melbourne was eager to see the clash between Rafael Nadal and local star Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round. In his second-round meeting with Gilles Simon, Nick received a warning from the chair umpire and Nadal was back on his schedule, poking fun at the 19-time Major champion and his service move.

Kyrgios had played at a high level in the first two matches in the local Major, serving well and staying focused on exchanges to set up the third-round clash with Karen Khachanov. On the other hand, Nadal reached the fourth round before the Australian, advancing to the round of 16 in Melbourne for the 13th time after a one-sided 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over compatriot Pablo Carreño Busta in less than 100 minutes.

Nadal praised both Kyrgios and Khachanov before their meeting, saying that he will watch the match between two of the best players in the world and prepare for the next clash, whoever wins. As it turned out, the Spaniard and the entire tennis world witnessed one of the most exciting matchups of the season, with Kyrgios prevailing over Khachanov 6-2, 7-6, 6-7, 6-7, 7-6 after four hours and 26 minutes to advance and arrange the meeting with Rafa in the next round.

Swiatek on her passion for Nadal

In the latest episode of CrossCourt, Poland's Iga Swiatek and Hubert Hurkacz spoke at length about Rafael Nadal. Swiatek and Hurkacz both heaped praise on the 20-time Grand Slam champion, lauding his humility as well as his claycourt prowess.

"So I know you're a big Rafa fan, how much do you look up to him at his game style, or maybe at his routines? What do you want to implement in your game?" Hurkacz asked. "Basically it's not only about the game, because of course I love his topspin and just how he plays on clay," Swiatek replied.

"Clay is also my favorite surface. So when I was younger, I wanted to be like him, but I knew it's kind of impossible, because he's much stronger, and I also like his attitude and how he behaves off-court." Iga Swiatek, a long-time fan of Rafael Nadal's, posed for a photo with her idol for the first time during the clay season earlier this year.

"Yeah, Rafa is great. When we were in Madrid, still I was surprised that he said hi to me, because I still feel like I'm a junior, I'm new here, and he's like a superstar," Swiatek said. "So that shows that he's really down to earth."

Rafael Nadal