Rafael Nadal is usually judged by the last game he played but the Spanish legend has shown his true champion qualities in a beautiful moment with a fan.
On Friday, Nadal lost 6-4 6-4 to Germany’s Alexander Zverev at the Madrid Open quarterfinals, casting a question mark over his French Open campaign, where he will chase a 14th title at Roland Garros.
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The 20-time Grand Slam champion had also won the Madrid Open five times, while he is now focusing on winning a 10th Rome Masters to get his French Open campaign back on track.
Nadal has a 452-41 record with 61 of his 87 titles in his career in clay, making any loss on the surface a jarring event.
“I had the match under control at the beginning and was playing well for six games, probably playing better than him,” Nadal said.
“Then at 4-2 serving for 5-2, I had a disaster. Of course, playing against one of the best players in the world, under these circumstances, with this speed of the court, it’s very difficult. I tried but it’s true that the serve was difficult to control today.”
Nadal wasn’t having a good day.Source:Getty Images
It was Zverev’s third straight win over Nadal but his first win on clay.
But while Nadal was steamed to be bounced from the tournament, cameras also caught the moment the Spaniard showed off his champion qualities.
After the game, he met 95-year-old fan Manuela, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
The woman’s grandson posted on social media that his grandmother would fulfil the dream of seeing Nadal live.
“Before I forget what’s tennis and what Rafa means to me, I would like to meet him,” she was reported as saying.
@RafaelNadal Hoy mi abuela a sus 95 años vera el sueño cumplido de verte en directo, tiene principio de Alzheimer y me dijo que antes de olvidarse de lo que el tenis y tu significas para ella deseaba verte en directo. Espero disfrute de este día tanto como lo estoy disfrutando yo pic.twitter.com/85tpF09XJG
Madrid organisers helped with the meeting and Nadal could well be forgiven for turning his focus to his French Open or Rome Masters campaign.
You love to see it 😍@RafaelNadal took time after his match today to meet 93-year-old Manuela, one of his biggest fans.
This is a lovely gesture….But beyond that, there's an undertold and underlying story re: how each of the Big Three is/are extraordinarily gracious – and continue honoring commitments – after defeats. https://t.co/O6HFi2GXUJ
It came after Nadal was named the Laureus Sportsman of the Year earlier this week.
He took to Instagram to share his joy at winning the award, and even paying tribute to his long-time rival and friend Roger Federer.
“Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart to the Laureus World Sports,” Nadal wrote. “I have had some amazing competitors: the rest of the sportsmen probably deserve the trophy the same as me and I can’t be happier.
“Winning the French Open and equalling the 20th Grand Slam of Roger Federer has been an unforgettable moment. It means a lot to equal my great rival, but at the same time, my great friend. It’s something very special after all the history we have had together on and off court.
“The pandemic that we are facing is something unprecedented and I want to send a message of support to all the families that have suffered or lost somebody.”
A post shared by Rafa Nadal (@rafaelnadal)
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