Iga Swiatek has been a long-time admirer of Rafael Nadal, and her dream of practicing alongside the Mallorcan came true at this year's Roland Garros. Swiatek trained for about 20 minutes with Nadal ahead of her first-round match against Kaja Juvan in Paris.
Swiatek won her first match at the ongoing BNP Paribas Open, against Petra Martic, in comfortable fashion on Friday. After the win, the Pole spoke with Tennis Channel and looked back at her training session with Rafael Nadal.
Swiatek revealed that interacting with the Spaniard made her realize he has no airs about his immense success and that he is a "really normal guy". She also revealed that her psychologist - Daria Abramowicz - had set up the training session as a gift for her 20th birthday.
The 2020 Roland Garros champion admitted that Nadal's intensity was not at its highest during the session, but she didn't mind it since it was her birthday present.
"You know, like tennis-wise, I don't think he was playing 100%," Swiatek said. "So well, first of all, I was just super excited because that was my birthday present from my psychologist."
Iga Swiatek went on to reveal that the session was a surprise, and that she was nervous at the start given how much she admires Rafael Nadal. But she soon discovered that the Mallorcan is quite amicable and down-to-earth, as reinforced by the fact that he laughed about the misses off his forehand - which the Pole considers to be the best on tour.
"So I wasn't expecting that at all," Swiatek added. "I was pretty stressed at the beginning because I didn't know if I would be able to talk to him normally or if I would stutter! So I learnt that he's like a really normal guy and that's the best part of it because it feels like the success didn't change him. And he was like, he could laugh about his forehand, I mean come on, you have the best forehand out there so (laughs)."
"Rafael Nadal was giving a lot of spin, similar to what he does in a match" - Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek went on to shed some light on the tennis that Rafael Nadal exhibited during their training session at Roland Garros. Swiatek revealed that Nadal was deploying his standard amount of topspin when playing from the middle.
However, she added that the 20-time Major champion wasn't as punishing when spreading the court with his angles.
"It was just super nice, and I think when we were playing like from the middle, he was actually giving a lot of spin - maybe similar to what he is playing in a match," Swiatek said. "But when he was spreading me out, he was for sure not playing 100% (laughs)."