Chilean tennis star Alejandro Tabilo said he "always wanted to be like Rafael Nadal" and getting a chance to play against his idol was a dream come true. On Friday, Nadal defeated Tabilo 7-6 (6) 6-3 in an exhibition match in Santiago.
Tabilo, 25, didn't manage to beat Nadal but playing against his idol - in front of his home fans - in the capital city of his country, was something he will certainly never forget. "He's been my idol since I was a kid. I always wanted to be like him, I grew up watching him play, I dressed like him, I won tournaments and I bit the trophy like him.
Ever since I was a child, I wanted to play with him, follow in his footsteps," Tabilo said of Nadal, as quoted on We Love Tennis France.
Tabilo couldn't hide his happiness after he was selected to play Nadal
When Nadal decided to hold a Latin America Tour, Tabilo was selected to be his opponent in Chile.
After Tabilo was informed that he would be taking on Nadal, he admitted to being in disbelief. "For me it is incredible. Since I was little I have always tried to do everything like [Rafael] Nadal; he is my idol and playing with him in Chile is a dream, it will be unforgettable.
So to have this opportunity to play an exhibition here with him makes me very happy. When they first named me to compete against Nadal, I didn't think much of it. It took me a while to react and already, a week ago, when they confirmed me, I couldn't believe it.
Guille (Gómez) called me on the phone and was happy. My eyes widened with happiness," Tabilo said after he was named as Nadal's rival in Chile. It remains to be seen if Tabilo will get a chance to also play Nadal on the main level.