'Rafael Nadal was surrounded by hundreds of athletes who...', says former star

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'Rafael Nadal was surrounded by hundreds of athletes who...', says former star

It was 17 years ago, it was exactly March 28, 2004 and on that date began what will be remembered by tennis fans as the greatest rivalry of all time. A young and talented man challenged what was already considered one of the best tennis players of all time, surprisingly it was Rafael Nadal who won with a double 6-3 and began his true dynasty.

We have seen these two players compete multiple times, single matches or Grand Slam finals, almost always high tension challenges in which one or the other wins. Rafael Nadal is ahead in the preview with 24 wins and 16 losses, the two have not challenged each other since the 2019 Wimbledon semi-final (not counting the performances) in which the Swiss triumphed.

Despite the many defeats he suffered, one of the best and greatest memories of Roger Federer comes from a challenge against Rafael Nadal, it was the final of the 2017 Australian Open and no one would have expected another great act from Fedal.

The two players share the record for Grand Slam titles (both with 20) and together with Novak Djokovic are among the three most successful players in history. Former World No. 26 Victor Hanescu recently described what it felt like to face 20-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal on the court.

Hanescu talks about Rafael Nadal

Victor Hanescu, who reached his lone Grand Slam quarterfinal at the 2005 French Open, also asserted that Rafael Nadal’s success didn't change his intrinsic humility and down-to-earth nature.

"Honestly, [Rafa] is very polite, he's an athlete who talks to everyone," Hanescu said. "He's very modest and that's seen in everything he says. I remember I was at the Beijing Olympics," the 39-year-old added.

"At the opening ceremony, Nadal was next to our group. He was surrounded by hundreds of athletes who wanted to take a picture with him. Nadal was taking pictures with everyone, he never said he didn't feel like it or couldn't.

He took pictures with everyone and that shows what kind of man he is." Even though Rafa is not playing at the Miami Open 2021, he’ll hope to make a comeback on the court soon. It won’t be too long before Rafael Nadal once again becomes the boss of red dirt.

But before the clay season begins, good news has arrived for fans from the Barcelona Open. Firstly, the participation of the 20-time Grand Slam champion has already added more volume to the event. In fact, tournament director and retired tennis player David Ferrer laid emphasis on the Spaniard’s importance to Barcelona.