Russian hot-shot Andrey Rublev has paid tribute to Rafa Nadal after his recent historic French Open triumph, claiming his greatness transcends tennis.
Nadal defeated world number one Novak Djokovic in three straight sets to win the Grand Slam for the 13th time in his career, drawing level with Roger Federer at 20 Grand Slam trophies each.
Rublev himself has had an impressive year, reaching a career-high ranking of eighth in the world, and at the age of 22 he is currently the youngest player in the world’s top 10.
The two players have only played each other once in the quarterfinals of the US Open three years ago, but it is clear that the Spaniard is an inspiration to Rublev not only in success, but in attitude too.
“I can’t imagine not only how it is possible to win so many Slams but also how it is possible to achieve what he has done and how it is possible to be as mentally strong during the whole career,” Rublev said of Rafa Nadal.
“Even Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have bad days through their career but Rafa is the only one who no matter how he is feeling himself emotionally he always finds the way to win.
"And even if he loses, he is fighting in three-five set for many hours.”
“All the athletes have bad days, but in team sports your partners help you, so the team can win at the end if all the other players are good enough.
"It is very difficult to compete in any match no matter what is going on in your off-court life. He is not just the best tennis player he is the best athlete ever."
When asked about his own game and his top ten status, Rublev added "Every position in the ranking means a lot now. The most important thing for me is to keep working.
"I still have a lot of elements that I need to improve. I want to believe that I will have the opportunity to become better for the next season,” he said.
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