Rafael Nadal: ‘It’s an honor to inspire young players’

Rafael Nadal has been one of the world’s most accomplished and recognized athletes over the last 15 years, always giving his everything and inspiring many kids to pick up a racquet and follow in his footsteps. An idol for many upcoming players, Rafa has set the mark on how to act on the tennis court, respect the opponent and consistently perform at your best level on a given day. Sebastian Korda is one of the young guns inspired by Rafa while making their first tennis steps, and he got a chance to challenge his idol at the last year’s Roland Garros. Korda qualified for the main draw and scored his first ATP victories to advance into the fourth round and set the clash against the 12-time champion Nadal. Rafa beat Sebastian 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 in an hour and 55 minutes on a windy day at Court Philippe-Chatrier to end the youngster’s run and move into the quarters for the 14th time in Paris. Nadal saved five out of six break chances and delivered eight breaks from 11 opportunities to race over the top.

Rafael Nadal defeated Sebastian Korda in the fourth round at Roland Garros.

The American stayed in touch with Nadal in the most extended exchanges, although it was not enough to take more than four games. Nadal had 15 winners and 20 unforced errors, struggling at some moments due to strong wind but doing more than enough to race over the top and preserve energy for the next clash against another young gun. In the first game, Rafa saved two break points to avoid an early setback and produced breaks in games two and four to open a 5-0 gap. The American held at love in game six with a service winner to add his name on the scoreboard, reducing the deficit to 5-1 before Nadal held after deuce for 6-1 in 37 minutes. Rafa produced three fine holds in set number two and stole Korda’s serve three times for 6-1 and a massive advantage after 61 minutes. At the beginning of the third set, the youngster broke and opened a 2-0 gap, only to drop the remaining six games and push Nadal over the top. 

“I’m happy with the way I performed against a young and challenging opponent. He has a big future ahead of him, and I wish him all the best. It’s an honor to inspire young players and kids to pick up the racquet and step on the court. My entire generation has tried to give its best on the court every day and always improve; I’m glad that we inspired the new generations. Sebastian made some mistakes in crucial points, but the way he hits the ball is impressive. Also, it was not easy to find the right shots in those windy conditions,” Rafael Nadal said. 

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