‘Rafael Nadal is the greatest – he’ll always be my favourite player’, says ATP star
An ATP star has spoken of the “utmost respect” he has for his idol Rafael Nadal and how he twice dressed up as the great Spaniard for Halloween.
Reilly Opelka has described 20-time major winner Nadal as “the greatest” and revealed he will always be his favourite player.
The world number 36 also reflected on the experience of facing the 35-year-old for the first time at the Italian Open Masters 1000 event in May.
Nadal defeated the giant American 6-4, 6-4 in the semi-finals in Rome – before going on to win a staggering 10th Italian Open crown.
“With my style of play, unfortunately, there wasn’t much to do. The simple fact of facing Rafa was already great, he is the greatest and he was playing on his court,” the 23-year-old said in a press conference.
Rafa Nadal is through to the Italian Open final!
The Spaniard cruises past Reilly Opelka in straight sets 🔥 pic.twitter.com/xfgze2oIps
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) May 15, 2021
“He was always my favourite player growing up, I dressed up as him twice on Halloween, so facing a legend like him is amazing. He wanted to go out and win, but the respect I feel for him was a lot – I think it happens to all of us.
“We have grown up idolising these players, but another thing is to enter the court defeated. I no longer tell you about asking for a selfie at the end of the match – a line must be drawn on these issues.
“I have the utmost respect for Rafa, he is the greatest, he was my favourite player and always will be. But the day we played, I went on court and tried to beat him.”
Both Nadal and Opelka are in action at this week’s Citi Open in Washington – where they will play their third round matches today.
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