Rising Spanish tennis player Alejandro Davidovich Fokina believes that Rafael Nadal is one of the mentally toughest players in the world. He recently claimed that all youngsters on the tour can learn a lot by watching Nadal's matches.
Davidovich Fokina, who hasn't yet played his famous countryman on the professional circuit, is currently ranked a career-high no. 52 in the ATP rankings. The 21-year-old is a former junior World No. 2, and he had also won the 2017 Wimbledon boys singles titles.
On the professional tour, he has so far won two Challengers and one ITF Futures title.
In an interview with the Spanish website AS, Davidovich Fokina spoke about how he looks up to Rafael Nadal for his mental toughness, even though their games are very different.
"In Spain, we have a player, Rafael Nadal, who is a mental beast," Davidovich Fokina said. "You can learn a lot from him by watching how he manages his matches. Although, when it comes to the game (style) we are totally different."
Rafael Nadal, an inspiration for scores of players around the world
Rafael Nadal has showcased his mental fortitude time and time again, and that was once again on display during the 2020 season.
The year had started on a disappointing note for Nadal, with Spain going down to Serbia in the ATP Cup final. The 34-year-old then lost in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open to Dominic Thiem, before the tour was suspended due to COVID-19.
After the tour resumed in August, Rafael Nadal decided to skip the Western & Southern Open and US Open events in New York to focus his preparations on winning a 13th French Open title. That turned out to be a wise decision as the Spaniard claimed another French Open title in Paris, tying Roger Federer for most Grand Slam singles titles in men's tennis history.
This wasn't the usual Roland Garros triumph for Rafael Nadal though, given that the odds were heavily stacked against him. The conditions were slow and damp due to the unusual scheduling of the tournament, the balls weren't bouncing as high as he likes, and his opponent in the final - Novak Djokovic - hadn't lost a single completed match in the year until then.
But Nadal brushed aside all of that to produce a performance for the ages, thrashing Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 to lift his 13th French Open trophy.
It is this single-minded focus that has made Rafael Nadal such a role model for youngsters. His ability to overcome adversity and keep plugging away has inspired many up-and-coming players, including 2020's breakout stars Andrey Rublev and Iga Swiatek. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina is just the latest to join that list.