Over the period of the last decade and a half, Rafael Nadal has developed into one of the biggest names in the sporting world. His status as an ambassador and role model for Spaniards has become particularly larger-than-life, with many claiming he is Spain's greatest athlete of all time.
In that context, former professional tennis player and current president of the Romanian tennis federation Ion Tiriac recently spoke about the impact that someone like Rafael Nadal can have on a nation as a whole.
Television multiplies the impact of the stars of the tennis: Ion Tiriac on Rafael Nadal's fame
Speaking to L'Equipe, Tiriac pointed out that a player of the caliber and stature of Rafael Nadal doesn't just elevate the sport of tennis, but also creates a greater impact on the public consciousness than luminaries from other fields.
"Television multiplies the impact of the stars of the tennis," said Tiriac. "I'm sure Rafael Nadal's name is better known than that of the Spanish Prime Minister. This is why I say tennis has a huge chance. The face of a tennis player is more popular than that of a politician because it stays on screen longer."
Tiriac also compared Rafael Nadal to Boris Becker, who was one of the most well-known faces in the world during his time at the summit of men's tennis. The Romanian went as far as to suggest that Becker was even more in the public eye than the US President.
"When Becker was playing, he spent 5,000 hours a year on television. Two or three hours a day. Conclusion, he was more visible than the President of the United States. This is why tennis has so many partners. It's a unique sport," Tiriac added.
These comments come in the wake of Rafael Nadal's remarkable triumph at Roland Garros 2020, where he won a historic 13th title to tie Roger Federer's all-time record of 20 Majors overall.
The Spaniard is now vying for his first title at the Nitto ATP Finals. If he does manage to triumph in London this week, it will be his first title on indoor hardcourts since the Madrid Masters back in 2005.
The 34-year-old will be up against some heavy competition in the form of familiar foe Novak Djokovic (who is the title favorite) as well as US Open champion Dominic Thiem, five-time 2020 titlist Andrey Rublev and defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas.Published 14 Nov 2020, 17:15 IST