Iga Swiatek says she "wanted to be like" Rafael Nadal growing up, Hubert Hurkacz says Nadal is "an amazing example" for young players

Rafael Nadal in action at the Mutua Madrid Open
Rafael Nadal in action at the Mutua Madrid Open

In the latest episode of CrossCourt, Poland's Iga Swiatek and Hubert Hurkacz spoke at length about Rafael Nadal. Swiatek and Hurkacz both heaped praise on the 20-time Grand Slam champion, lauding his humility as well as his claycourt prowess.

CrossCourt is a video program created by the ATP and the WTA. The show features one male and female player, who take turns asking each other questions pertaining to a certain topic.

Swiatek and Hurkacz joined forces for Episode 7, which revolved around the topic of discipline. During the conversation, Hurkacz asked Swiatek to shed some light on her admiration for Rafael Nadal.

"So I know you're a big Rafa fan, how much do you look up to him at his game style, or maybe at his routines? What do you want to implement in your game?" Hurkacz asked.

Swiatek was quick to point out that she not only admires Nadal for his brilliant game on clay but also for his attitude and personality off the court. The Pole also revealed that she loves his topspin groundstrokes and that she wanted to emulate his playing style growing up.

"Basically it's not only about the game, because of course I love his topspin and just how he plays on clay," Swiatek replied. "Clay is also my favorite surface. So when I was younger, I wanted to be like him, but I knew it's kind of impossible, because he's much stronger, and I also like his attitude and how he behaves off-court."

Driving home her point on Nadal's humble nature, Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion, pointed out how the Mallorcan met a 95-year-old fan of his during the Madrid Masters earlier this year.

Nadal was pictured meeting Manuela, an Alzheimer's patient, after her grandson had reached out to the 20-time Major champion.

"Actually, I saw on ATP Instagram that he met his fan, the older lady, and that was really, really cool," Swiatek added. "And he's just trying to be a good example for other people."
✨✨ ¡CONSEGUIDO! ✨✨Manuela, de 95 años, ha podido cumplir su sueño y se ha hecho una foto con su ídolo Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal). Gracias a @MutuaMadridOpen y enhorabuena a @carripadel22 por esta bella iniciativa en Twitter.(📷Foto: @MutuaMadridOpen) #TenisEnRTVE

Hurkacz echoed Swiatek's comments about Nadal's personality, saying the Spaniard sets an "amazing example" for younger players on tour.

The 24-year-old also responded to Swiatek's statement on Nadal's topspin by pointing out that her groundstrokes were even more impressive than the Spaniard's during her title run at Roland Garros in 2020.

"Yeah, I think he is an amazing example, the way he works hard and his attitude on the match, and also how he behaves, and that's also like your topspin's pretty heavy as well," Hurkacz said. "It worked at the French Open I think even better than his, so it was pretty good."

Iga Swiatek says Rafael Nadal is "really down to earth", Hubert Hurkacz believes the Mallorcan is an "inspiration

🤩This is me and Rafa just casually showing his quads...
Just kidding. You're so kind @RafaelNadal, thank you for taking the time before the match.
🤩Oto ja, Rafa i jego udo...
A poważnie, dziękuję życzliwość, klasę i czas poświęcony przed meczem na zrobienie sobie tego zdjęcia.

Iga Swiatek, a long-time fan of Rafael Nadal's, posed for a photo with her idol for the first time during the clay season earlier this year. The two also took a picture together after the Italian Open as well as during the Madrid Masters.

Swiatek stressed that she considers Nadal a genuinely humble person, pointing to how the Spaniard took time out to greet her during the Madrid Masters despite her status as a relative newcomer on the tour.

"Yeah, Rafa is great. When we were in Madrid, still I was surprised that he said hi to me, because I still feel like I'm a junior, I'm new here, and he's like a superstar," Swiatek said. "So that shows that he's really down to earth."

Hurkacz agreed with Swiatek's point of view, highlighting how Nadal always makes it a point to greet everyone.

"Yeah, I mean he always says hi to everyone, super, super nice," Hurkacz said. "So really (he is) an inspiration."
Edited by Arvind Sriram
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