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Nadal opens tennis academy with Federer as guest of honour

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Manacor (Spain), Oct 20 (IANS) Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal has opened an academy bearing his name in his hometown on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, with his friend and long-time rival Roger Federer as the guest of honour.

The Rafa Nadal Academy is built across 24,000 square meters (258,000 sq. ft.) and is to combine tennis lessons with academics, reports Efe.

"It's a dream come true," said Nadal, who along with Federer and President-CEO of Telefonica, Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete, unveiled the facilities to numerous guests and officials on Wednesday.

Among those present were the president of the Balearic Government Francina Armengol, the presidents of the International Tennis Federation and the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), David Hagerty and Chris Kermode, respectively, and the chairman of Wimbledon Phillip Brook.

The sports centre consists of a residence, 26 clay courts, a fitness centre, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a seven-a-side soccer field, among other sports facilities.

The centre will create employment for some 140 people and also includes the Rafael Nadal Foundation and a museum.

Nadal described it as "a project that my team and I have worked toward for years".

"I am grateful from my heart, it is a very special day for me," said Nadal, who also addressed his family and the academy's first students.

Federer, his great rival in the courts and a tennis legend with 17 Grand Slam trophies to his credit, congratulated Nadal.

"It's a great idea, I don't have an academy like this," Federer said.

Nadal said that he expected to resume his on-court rivalry with Federer soon, once the Swiss player recovers from an injury that has troubled him recently.

"Neither Roger nor I have forgotten how to play tennis and we are working to return to compete at the highest level," said the double Olympic champion.

Nadal did not reveal a timetable for his return to the court or if he would play in the Basel Open or the Paris-Bercy Masters.

The Spaniard had suffered a shock defeat by the Serb player Viktor Troicki in Shanghai.

Federer acknowledged that Nadal had pushed him during a sporting rivalry that he described as intense but also respectful.

"I've never seen someone with this much power and top spin and intensity, all in one package, coming into tennis," said Federer.

--IANS

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