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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday May 28, 2021

When in Paris—respect the king.

No, we are not talking about Henri the IV, rather Rafael Nadal. Today two of the most talented teenagers in tennis both expressed their undying admiration for Nadal, in their own unique ways.

Tennis Express

2020 Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek was asked by a reporter if she had ever consulted the 13-time Roland Garros champion and asked for advice on how to defend the title in Paris.

Nadal would be a good guy to ask. The 34-year-old is aiming to become the first player to successfully win the French Open five years in a row on two different occasions. As it stands now, there have been 19 successful title defenses of the men’s singles title at Roland Garros in the Open Era, and Nadal has ten of them.

“Not yet,” Swiatek responded, before elaborating further. “Maybe we're gonna have a chance to do that later, but we just had like a quick small talk last year, and yesterday he said hi to me. For now I'm too overwhelmed to even say hi. So, you know, I'm a big fan of his, and if I'm gonna have a chance to, you know, ask him some stuff and also learn from him, it would be great, but we are both busy, so I know it's gonna be hard to schedule that.”


Later in the day Coco Gauff came by for her press conference and a reporter told the 17-year-old American that Nadal had been saying good things about her of late.

Her response moves her into the Nadal fangirl clan right next to Swiatek.

“That's pretty cool to hear, to be honest,” she told the reporter. “It feels pretty good. Obviously somebody I look up to and walking around I still get starstruck by him, like it's Rafa Nadal. So it's pretty cool that he said that about me.”

The reporter informed Gauff that Nadal told her that she likely didn’t need any advice from him—that she was doing just fine by herself. To which she replied: “I mean, I know he says I don't need advice, but, I mean, anything from Rafa would be great.”

Nadal, meanwhile, was busy talking about the steel statue that has been erected in his honor on the Roland-Garros grounds. The majestic sculpture is the work of the Spanish artist Jordi Díez Fernandez and "shows the man from Mallorca hitting a stroke in his inimitable swashbuckling style. Made of steel, it measures 3 metres high, 4.89 metres wide and 2 metres deep.'

It is a part of group of new statues on the grounds this year. There is a center piece of the aviator Roland Garros as well as returned statues of all four of the legendary Mosquetaires—René Lacoste, Henri Cochet, Jacques Brugnon and Jean Borotra—that had been taken off the grounds during renovation in 2016.



“I received plenty of messages of congrats,” Nadal said of the statue. “Of course is something amazing for me to have recognition like this in the most important place in my tennis career, something probably unprecedented. Is true that I did something very special here in this event.

"But at the same time, I can't thank enough Roland Garros, the French Federation, everybody, all the employees, for that recognition, no? Have been very special for me and to have a memory like this forever in Roland Garros is something, yeah, that makes me feel very proud and very satisfied.”

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