Iga Swiatek says she will be “rooting for Rafa” when the Spanish great faces Novak Djokovic in a blockbuster quarter-final at the French Open on Tuesday evening.
All eyes will descent on Roland-Garros when Nadal and Djokovic step out onto Court Philippe-Chatrier for a match dubbed “the most important men’s match in the last 10 years” by Eurosport expert Tim Henman,
Djokovic leads their head-to-head 30-28, although the record is flipped 7-2 in favour of Nadal on the Paris clay.
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The world No. 1 is bidding to join Nadal at the top of the men’s all-time charts with his 21st Grand Slam title. Nadal won the last major at the Australian Open after a miraculous comeback from a five-month injury absence.
Swiatek, who is carving up the women’s tour and recorded her 32nd straight victory on Monday, is a huge Nadal fan and will again be supporting him against his long-time rival.
“As everyone knows I am a Rafael Nadal fan and I would love to watch his match against Novak Djokovic,” Swiatek said in her BBC Sport column.
“I will be too curious about what will happen not to see it, but I will watch on TV rather than at the stadium.
“I watched Rafa's last match against Felix Auger-Aliassime, although not the full game because it was so long.
“During the tournament I need to be focused on my own preparations, my rest and my routine. That's why I won't be going to watch the quarter-final in the stadium.
“But, like always, I'll be rooting for Rafa.”
Nadal admitted after his win over Felix Auger-Aliassime on Sunday that his body could give up at any time as he dropped more retirement hints.
“Recently I went to Rafa's academy in Majorca and saw all his trophies in the museum he has there,” continued Swiatek.
“I got more excited about those trophies than the ones I saw when I went to Real Madrid's stadium, although they were impressive too.
“I was really in awe at seeing the Grand Slam trophies Rafa has won, of course.
“But I was also amazed at all the others, like the trophies he has won at Barcelona, Monte Carlo and Rome. There are so many!
“It was amazing to see the consistency he has had during his career and seeing all his trophies was really inspiring.”
The cooler night-time conditions are expected to favour Djokovic, with Nadal unable to generate quite as much of his fabled topspin with the ball becoming heavier.
Eurosport expert Mats Wilander explained the differences between playing in the day and at night on the clay at Roland-Garros.
“Without a doubt, yes," Wilander said when asked if it was different playing in the day compared to the night.
"The surface - clay - becomes a little moist, and the tennis ball picks up the moisture, [becoming] heavier, much harder to spin.
"Of course, the night session at the US Open is different too because of the temperature changes and humidity, but the court itself doesn’t change as much; of course a cement hard court.
"When it’s hot, it’s bouncier than when it’s cold, but this change [at Roland-Garros] is way more, and it’s tricky for players."
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