Iga Swiatek recalled her first time meeting Rafael Nadal and how she dealt with something that seemed quite daunting at the time.
Swiatek grew up with Nadal as her tennis idol, so when she finally got a chance to meet him, it was a special moment. A self-described introvert, Swiatek was worried about making the meeting awkward, so she wrote down topics they could talk about.
It wasn’t as unusual for her as she had done in the past. The meeting actually went really well, as she explained in a recent interview with Polish outlet Sportowe Fakty.
I don’t remember what was on that note. But this was not a unique situation! I did this more often as a teenager. I recommend it to all introverts! If I didn’t know someone, I didn’t know what we could talk about. Now I’m opening up more and more.
I wouldn’t want anyone to look at me as a person from another world now. And [Rafael Nadal] thought I had no problems, that everything was perfect with me. Each of us has our own bubble on tour. We let the most important people in. And its interior looks different than you can read in the media.
Swiatek and Nadal would ultimately end up practicing together as well, having grown quite accustomed to each other by now. He is still by far her biggest tennis idol, and for good reason.
There are some similarities in the way they approach tennis, for example, their dominance on clay. There are also some differences, but it’s pretty clear that the Spaniard was the most profound tennis influence on Swiatek when she was a teenager.
She’s now number one in her own right, hoping to leave a fraction of the legacy he left. She’s on a very good path so far.