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'Rafael Nadal was my idol,' admits top ten ATP star

Rafael Nadal fist pump Australian Open

Andrey Rublev has admitted to idolising Rafael Nadal as a youngster and using him as a motivation to work even harder in his tennis career.

The Russian has had a tremendous couple of years, climbing from 102 in the world to his current position as world number eight winning eight singles titles along the way.

This year already the 23-year-old has helped Team Russia to win the ATP Cup, reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and won the Rotterdam title.

He also recently overtook Andy Murray to win 22 consecutive ATP 500 matches, leaving him in second place just short of Roger Federer's record of 28.

But when talking about what motivated Rublev as a youngster, he says although he took inspiration from other Russian players, it was Rafael Nadal who was his idol.

"I liked the way Marat Safin played of course," Rublev told Russian sports site Championat.

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"As a child, Nadal was an idol. Now, I periodically play and train with him.

Rublev went to to say that Nadal made a very early impact on him as a player when he got the chance to train with him at just 16 years old.

"I remember our first training session, I was 16 years old," Rublev went on to say.

"I experienced cool sensations and a surge of motivation. I immediately wanted to work even harder in order to somehow fight him."

Rublev has only faced Rafael Nadal twice competitively, once as a 19-year-old in the quarter-finals of the 2017 US Open, and again at last year’s ATP Finals. On both occasions, the Spaniard won in straight sets.

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