World number one Rafa Nadal swapped tennis balls for golf balls as he prepared to defend his Wimbledon crown by playing a few rounds and drawing inspiration from Rory McIlroy’s exploits in the US Open this week.
The Spaniard has been glued to the television watching McIlroy take a runaway lead and in between gearing up for his opening match at the All England Club on Monday, Nadal plans to cheer on the British golfer in Sunday’s final round.
“I will be supporting him this afternoon, because I think he deserves the title,” Nadal told a news conference. “I love watching Rory … He probably has one of the nicest swings in the world, if not the nicest.
“For sure he is an inspiration. I admire him a lot.”
Nadal’s warm-up for the grasscourt grand slam was cut short by a quarterfinal exit at Queen’s Club this month, allowing him to squeeze in a trip home to Majorca to recharge his batteries and hone his own skills with the small white ball.
“I’ve played fantastic rounds of golf,” he said when asked how he had used his time off.
“[The] best two weeks of my life in Majorca … I spent the weekend with friends, family, relaxing a little bit. I didn’t spend a weekend at home since the Davis Cup against Belgium in February, so I needed it.”
Nadal, seeking a third Wimbledon title, opens his campaign on Centre Court against American Michael Russell.
Fresh from winning a sixth French Open title this month, his 10th grand slam title, Nadal dismissed suggestions he was rapidly closing in on Roger Federer’s record 16 majors even if his tennis was improving all the time.
“Last year was, in my opinion, very impossible to repeat: three grand slams in a row,” said the 25-year-old, who won the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open in succession in 2010.
“I think I’m a more complete player than a few years ago, I am sure on that … But being a better player doesn’t mean that you going to win more. I don’t know if I will win more than a few years ago.” – Reuters