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"Rafael Nadal was training as if he was playing a match" - Leylah Fernandez on how Nadal's intensity inspired her

Rafael Nadal at the 2020 Australian Open
Rafael Nadal at the 2020 Australian Open
Modified 17 Dec 2020, 13:35 IST

Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez recently talked about how she was inspired by watching 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal during a practice session in Melbourne earlier this year.

Fernandez is currently ranked No. 88 in the world, having climbed from No. 209 at the end of the 2019 season, which earned her a nod for the WTA Newcomer of the Year award. At this year's Australian Open, the 18-year-old won three matches in qualifying to reach the main draw, where she lost to American Lauren Davis.

In a recent interview with ESPN, Fernandez narrated how during a training session at the first Grand Slam of the 2020 season, she looked over to find Rafael Nadal practicing two courts away from her. The Canadian revealed Nadal was super-intense in his drills, which inspired her to step up the intensity of her own practice session as well.

"Rafael Nadal was training as if he was playing a match," Fernandez recalled. "He was so intense out there. There was a crowd watching so I wanted to impress them, too, and it put so much pressure on me."
"There were so many unknowns for me at that point and I didn't know how I was going to play [throughout the season], but seeing him out there inspired me to play like that in my trainings, too, and step it up. It was definitely one of those surreal moments," she added.

Rafael Nadal is currently practicing at his academy in Spain ahead of the 2021 season

French Open Winner Rafael Nadal
French Open Winner Rafael Nadal

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal, who won his 20th Grand Slam title at the French Open in September, has started his off-season training at his academy in Spain ahead of the 2021 season.

On Thursday, the ATP Tour announced its schedule for the first two months of 2021, which will make it easier for the players - including Nadal - to start planning their schedule.


As per the schedule released, the Australian summer will begin with a couple of ATP 250 events and the ATP Cup in the first week of February, followed by the Australian Open on 8 February. In 2020, Rafael Nadal helped Spain reach the final of the ATP Cup and made it to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, where he lost to Dominic Thiem.

Nadal is now tied with Roger Federer at 20 Grand Slams - which is the most in men's tennis history. He will be aiming to take sole possession of the record in Melbourne by winning his 21st Grand Slam singles title.

Published 17 Dec 2020, 13:35 IST
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