Rising Polish star Iga Swiatek absolutely enjoyed her time on the practice court with record 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal. Swiatek, 20, got an opportunity to practice with world No. 3 Nadal over the weekend on the clay courts of Roland Garros.
Swiatek, who is enjoying a career-high ranking of No. 9 in the world, grew up idolizing Nadal and having a chance to practice with him was a dream come true. “It was great,” she recalled after her first-round victory over Kaja Juvan, per TENNIS.com.
“It wasn't a surprise because I had to prepare. Write some small topics, not to have awkward silence. But Rafa is really, really great. He's a really nice guy. Even though I am pretty introverted, it was really fun for me”.
Swiatek amazed by Nadal's humble personality
“Obviously I got to feel his forehand, which was great, and his topspin. That was a whole new experience for me. It gave me a lot of positive energy. It was really a huge inspiration for me," Swiatek added.
“It's really nice to see such a champion being normal off court, and also telling jokes and being a little bit sarcastic. It's really, really nice. He's the guy that everybody can take something for themselves”.
Meanwhile, Swiatek made a positive start to her French Open campaign as she handed a 6-9 7-5 loss to Juvan. Swiatek made the best possible start to the match, having claimed three breaks in the first set to win the opener without a game dropped.
Swiatek then broke Juvan in the fourth game to take a 3-1 second set lead but got broken back in the fifth game. Then no breaks were seen until the 12th game of the second set, when Swiatek realized her fourth match point to seal a straight-set win. Swiatek won the Rome Masters two weeks ago and now she is hoping to win it all at Roland Garros.