Rafael Nadal celebrates

‘Rafael Nadal is my idol – I named by cat after him and he’s a reason I play tennis,’ says opponent

Sebastian Korda says he admires Roland Garros opponent Rafael Nadal so much that he named his cat after him.

American hopeful Korda beat Spain’s Pedro Martinez 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 in the third round on Friday to put him on a collision course with Nadal, and he says it will be a special one for him.

“Growing up, I named my cat Rafa after him,” Korda said of Rafael Nadal. “That says a lot about how much I love the guy.

“He’s my biggest idol. He’s one of the reasons I play tennis.

“Just watching him play, unbelievable competitor. Just from him I have the never-give-up mentality. Whenever I’m on court, I try to be like him.”

Korda cat Rafael Nadal

Despite Nadal inspiring him, it was actually attending a Novak Djokovic match at the US Open in 2009 that brought Korda into tennis.

“It was on Ashe stadium, 10:30 at night, totally packed,” he recalled.

“I thought it was the coolest thing. Went home, came back the next year and said, This is exactly what I want to do. The rest is history.”

Korda is the son of Petr Korda, who won the Australian Open title in 1998.

Michael Graham, Editor, has been a professional sports journalist for his whole career and is especially passionate about tennis. He's been the Editor of for over 5 years and loves watching live tennis by visiting as many tournaments as possible. Michael specialises in writing in-depth features about the ATP & WTA tours.