Sania Mirza says Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal speak highly about each other despite great rivalry

The Indian tennis star also looked back at some of the rivalries she cherished the most on her road to becoming a six-time grand slam winner.

Press Release November 04, 2020 14:51:03 IST
Sania Mirza says Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal speak highly about each other despite great rivalry

Rafael Nadal clinched his 13th French Open title having won his first in 2005. AP

Mumbai: Sania Mirza on Wednesday spoke about the legendary rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and what it means to be true champions like them.

She said, "The way they talk about each other on and off the camera is pretty incredible and I’ve seen that being a part of IPTL where I was on Rafa’s team and I was on the same team as Roger in the following or the year before that. They speak so highly about each other. On the courts, of course, everybody knows that they’ve had some incredible matches and have some incredible history, but I think off the court are the moments that make them very special. The respect they have for each other and when they play you can see that there is so much respect and mutual admiration for each other as well. They bring so much to the game and such different things that our sport really needs both of them."

The Indian tennis star also looked back at some of the rivalries she cherished the most on her road to becoming a six-time grand slam winner. She said, “There are some rivalries that are iconic. But I think during my singles career there was a girl from Russia called Anna Chakvetadze. She was top 10 in the world, I think close to top 5. We played a lot against each other since the juniors. She definitely helped me become better because initially I was not able to beat her and I felt that she was someone, she had a very unconventional game and I feel that… we played so much against each other. When Martina and I were playing, I think our biggest rival at that time were probably Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova. We won the Wimbledon finals against them as well. We played a lot against each other. Also, there was Babos - Mladenovic at the time who we played a lot against and Mladenovic and Garcia, they were probably our biggest rivals."

Speaking to Discovery plus on the occasion, PV Sindhu said, “I believe both Roger and Rafael are legends in their own way and definitely love to see both of them play. I can’t just choose one from both but I think each of them has a different style of play and different game so I would say, both are legends.” She added, “I think it’s the greatest rivalry not only in tennis but also globally because they are true champions and they have always inspired us in many ways and I would say it is always a treat for us to watch them play.”

On being asked who is that one rival who pushes her to become better? Sindhu accepted that Carolina Marin has done the same for her over the years. Sindhu also reminisced a moment from the initial days of the #Fedal rivalry that inspired her in her career and said, “I was really young then in 2004 in Miami when Nadal won against the then no 1 Federer. When I saw that it inspired me a lot in 2004 when Nadal won against the then world no 1. So, the closest of that for me would be when I won against the Olympic champion Li Xuerui in China Masters in 2012. So yeah, that was the closest for me.”

Somdev Devvarman talked about his greatest career rivalries remembering his time in college. He said “For me, my earliest rivalry began in college. I went through the NCAA system and the couple of players that I had played against were John Isner, University of Georgia and Kevin Anderson, University of Illinois and I played for the University of Virginia. So when we were in college we spend a lot of time playing each other and sometimes we got the better of each other. Those matches pushed me a lot personally because we wanted our team to beat their team but also knowing they were the best players in the country and I had a chance to play them and beat them.”

The documentary, “Strokes of Genius”, seeks to bring out the various facets that go into the making of an immortal rivalry through interesting perspectives from other living legends like John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova and others, is streaming now only on Discovery Plus.

(Via press release)

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