Andrey Rublev was full of praise of Rafael Nadal, who he said “is the best athlete, not even in tennis, the best athlete in history.”

The 23-year-old Russian triumphed at the St Petersburg Open, beating Croatia's Borna Coric 7-6(5) 6-4 for his fourth title in 2020. But he credited Nadal for being a big inspiration.

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Rublev cited how Nadal trumps Novak Djokovic and Rodger Federer because “they had one moment in their career when they were mentally a little bit down or they could get a little bit emotionally down during the match and, if something happens, they could lose or something.”

For him Nadal is on another level: “Rafa is the only one player in history that it doesn’t matter how he feels, bad or good. In the end he always finds a way to win”, he said paying tribute to the Spaniard's tenacity.

Sitting at no. 8 in the ATP Singles rankings, Rublev is pushing for more success himself.

He is aware though that it takes mental resilience to stay at the top. Drawing on inspiration from Nadal again he said: "If he is not winning, he is losing in three sets after three hours if it is not (at) a Grand Slam. If it is (at) a Grand Slam, it is going to be five hours and (against) the players that are good. I don't know how it is possible to be this strong mentally during all his career."

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