World No. 1 Iga Swiatek says Rafael Nadal has always been her idol and she cried after the Spaniard lost to Novak Djokovic in the French Open semifinal last year. Swiatek, 20, became a Grand Slam champion at the French Open in 2020.
In 2005, a teenage Nadal won the French Open to become a Grand Slam champion. In 2020, Nadal and Swiatek ended victorious at Roland Garros. "Rafael Nadal has always been my idol. I have pretty sad memories of Roland Garros last year because I was crying when Rafa lost against Novak [Djokovic].
But two years ago, I was watching the final. I had the trophy photoshoot [after I won the women's title]," Swiatek told Eurospot France. "I was wearing this really nice long dress and went to see the final like this.
It was nice because I didn't get the chance to see [Nadal] play so often. I wanted to use that occasion."
Swiatek becoming a dominant force on hard
Just like Nadal, Swiatek started her career by being dominant on clay.
Now, Swiatek is a more complete player as this season she has won three titles on hard. Nadal inspired Swiatek on the tennis court but it was her sister that was inspiring her outside the tennis court. "In everyday life, I think my sister had the biggest influence because she was the one I was watching every day.
I wanted to be like her, like every younger sibling. But [Nadal] for sure he inspired me a lot," Swiatek said. "I had a lot of fun watching him play on TV. Basically, his mental strength is the main thing I wanted to take from him. I wanted to play topspin like him, too. He is the reason why I play like this," Swiatek said.