Rafael Nadal: Iga Swiatek puts on a show with idol at US Open exhibition event

Swiatek and Nadal playing doubles

Iga Swiatek had the chance to play with her idol Rafael Nadal at Flushing Meadows and the two put on a show under the lights at the Louis Armstrong Stadium. 

The pair were playing together as part of the Tennis Plays for Peace exhibition event ahead of the US Open, which raised money for GlobalGiving Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund. 

All proceeds will help support humanitarian assistance in impacted communities in Ukraine and nearby regions where refugees have fled. 

A number of tennis’ biggest stars took part in the event, including Swiatek, Nadal, Coco Gauff, Leylah Fernandez, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Carlos Alcaraz, among others. 

In total, five doubles sets were played across the exhibition, with Swiatek and Nadal facing off first against John McEnroe and Gauff. 

In the end, it was the Pole and the Spaniard who won the set and treated the crowd to some scintillating tennis. 

Swiatek and Nadal playing doubles

Swiatek and Nadal entertain crowd  

The current women’s number one combined with the 22-time major champion to pull off some extraordinary shots. 

During one rally, both players pulled off tweeners and still managed to win the point. 

Understandably, fans were loving the partnership and were keen to stress their admiration for the two stars. 

“This was so good. I hope they play mixed doubles again,” said one fan. 

Another echoed this idea: “Will Iga and Rafa play mixed for real now,” they stressed. 

A third added: “So cool and fun to watch.” 

Nadal pays tribute to Swiatek 

Swiatek has long been an admirer of Nadal and has frequently stated that she’s modelled her game on the former world number one. 

“But Rafa, for sure, he inspired me a lot. I had a lot of fun watching him play on TV. Basically, his mental strength is the main thing I wanted to take from him,” she said earlier this year. 

Swiatek, Nadal

The 21-year-old even admitted that she cried at last year’s French Open when the Spaniard lost to Novak Djokovic. 

“Rafa has always been my idol,” she revealed. “I have pretty sad memories of Roland-Garros last year because I was crying when Rafa lost against Novak.”

While Swiatek views Nadal as her hero, the Pole has been in remarkable form herself this season.

Indeed, the world number one stormed to victory at Roland-Garros and went on a 37-match winning streak. 

Speaking after the exhibition event in New York, Nadal acknowledged the talent of Swiatek and emphasised how much he enjoyed playing with her. 

“I think she’s a huge inspiration for everyone, even for me. The way that she is, very natural, very humble. It was a pleasure [to play with her.]”

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