Rafael Nadal: Playing in front of Tiger Woods is ‘honor’
Rafael Nadal won his fourth round match at the US Open on Monday night, and he captured victory in front of a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium that included one very special guest: Tiger Woods.
Woods and Nadal are both Nike-sponsored athletes in individual sports and among the best players in the history of their games. Tiger was really getting into things while cheering on his buddy:
Inject Tiger fist pumping for his buddy Nadal into my veins pic.twitter.com/wHRWVdOGsP
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 3, 2019
Nadal, who beat Marin Cilic 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, was asked in his post-match interview with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi what it was like playing in front of Woods. Nadal was effusive with his praise for Woods.
"I always say that I've never had big idols, but if I have to say one idol it's him."
—Rafael Nadal on playing in front of Tiger Woods pic.twitter.com/rqaObYFzD2
— ESPN (@espn) September 3, 2019
“For me it’s a huge honor. To play in front of all of [the fans] is a huge honor, but to play in front of Tiger for me is a very special thing,” Nadal said. “I always said I never had big idols, but I have to say one idol is him. I always try to follow every shot he hit during the whole year. For me it’s a big pleasure to have him here supporting, means a lot. He’s a big legend of his sport, one of the legends of the sport. I want to congratulate him on one of the most amazing comebacks ever, winning the Masters this year.”
Rinaldi then asked Rafa if the two had ever played golf together, leading to a joke from the Spaniard.
“It’s much better if Tiger doesn’t see my swing.”
Woods was watching the match from a suite in the stadium. He was joined by his son, daughter and girlfriend Erica Herman.
The quarterfinals of the major are now set. Nadal will face Diego Schwartzman for a shot at reaching the semifinals.