Rafael Nadal: Very proud to have inspired Iran's Meshkatolzahra Safi to play tennis

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Rafael Nadal: Very proud to have inspired Iran's Meshkatolzahra Safi to play tennis

20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal is happy to have inspired Iranian junior Meshkatolzahra Safi to play tennis. Safi made history at this year's Australian Open after she became the first Iranian to win a junior match at a Grand Slam.

Also, Safi met Nadal and took a selfie with the former world No. 1. “I was in the corridor and somebody from the tournament just introduced me to her and explained to me a little bit the history. For me it was a pleasure to know more about her, I think it’s amazing, her story; super special to see players from different parts of the world, especially parts of the world that historically we never had players on the tour,” Nadal told The National.

“I think it’s fantastic to see a player from Iran that now is in the juniors and she already won a match. It’s a great story and it really was a pleasure to meet her. “One of the most beautiful things is that sport can change life of people and every time our sport is arriving to more places, it’s being more global and stories like hers say that we’re on the right way to keep promoting our sport in every single part of the world”.

Nadal inspired Safi

After winning her opener at Melbourne Park, Safi told The National she stumbled upon tennis when she was eight. Back then, Safi was watching TV with her mother and they stumbled upon a Nadal match. After the match, Safi went out to find a court in Iran and that's how her tennis journey started.

“For me, it’s something special. If I am able to inspire anyone to help them to make positive decisions on the lives of the people, it’s something that I am very proud of,” Nadal added. “In this particular case, if that helped her to try to play tennis and now she is where she is, it’s a big honour for me and I’m super happy for that”.