I’m inspired by Rafael Nadal: Meshkatolzahra Safi

January 26, 2022 - 13:15

TEHRAN - Meshkatolzahra Safi from Iran has revealed that she is inspired by Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal.

Safi, 17, made tennis history at Melbourne Park as she became the first Iranian girl to win a match at a Grand Slam.

“In my country, if you ask which sport they like, they’ll say football. I remember the day I was watching television with my mother and we were watching Rafael Nadal, and we were so curious to see if there is any tennis court in Iran that we could go to just try,” Safi told The National.

“My family they are in love with sport, especially my father, he was a football player when he was younger and we were really curious: What is tennis? Maybe I could try this?” she added.  

“When I started tennis, they said I’m talented but I mean, I found out later what is ‘talented’ because when I see the players here, when I see the juniors, the pros here, I can see what is ‘talented’”.

“I just really want to say don’t give up on your dreams because when I started my journey, everybody in Iran was saying, ‘this is impossible, playing Grand Slams is impossible, you cannot do that’; especially to my mom.

“So, I didn’t say my dream to anyone anymore and I just kept pushing,” Safi said. “So just keep pushing yourself, believe in your dreams, and don’t listen to everybody who is saying these things. This is really big for me and I hope I can continue; but I continue in every tough situation in my life, I just want to continue more.”

She reached the Australian Open second round with a 6-4, 6-3 win in just under 90 minutes, showcasing some delicate touch and an all-court game while braving the Melbourne heat. She is the first hijabi to compete at a Grand Slam.

“I love the sun, but not this much,” joked Safi after the win. “But I’m used to this hijab and this covering. This is part of me now because I was playing with this since I was nine until today, in any tours, in any weather, cold or hot. I’m used to it.

“Of course, I feel the heat, today was really, really difficult, especially between the points, but it doesn’t bother me. When you go to the match, when you play point by point, you don’t think about these things anymore.”

Safi stumbled upon tennis when she was eight years old, watching Rafael Nadal on television with her mother one day.

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