Rafael Nadal proud to be Meshkatolzahra Safi's idol

January 26, 2022 - 17:17

TEHRAN – Tennis legend Rafael Nadal says that he is very proud to inspire Iranian girl Meshkatolzahra Safi to choose tennis.

A day after making history by becoming the first ever player from Iran to win a Grand Slam junior match, Meshkatolzahra Safi, 17, came face to face with the man who inspired her to take up tennis in the first place.

Nadal finds Safi’s story “amazing” and was thrilled he got to meet her.

“I was in the corridor and somebody from the tournament just introduced me to her and explained to me a little bit the history. For me it was a pleasure to know more about her, I think it’s amazing, her story; super special to see players from different parts of the world, especially parts of the world that historically we never had players on the tour,” Nadal told The National in a voice message on Tuesday, after he booked himself a spot in the Australian Open semi-finals.

“I think it’s fantastic to see a player from Iran that now is in the juniors and she already won a match. It’s a great story and it really was a pleasure to meet her.

“One of the most beautiful things is that sport can change life of people and every time our sport is arriving to more places, it’s being more global and stories like hers say that we’re on the right way to keep promoting our sport in every single part of the world,” he added.

Nadal, who is gunning for an all-time record 21st Grand Slam title this fortnight in Melbourne, has inspired countless people across the globe but still finds it humbling to hear that Safi played tennis for the first time because she watched him play a match on TV.

“For me, it’s something special. If I am able to inspire anyone to help them to make positive decisions on the lives of the people, it’s something that I am very proud of,” said the Spaniard.

“In this particular case, if that helped her to try to play tennis and now she is where she is, it’s a big honor for me and I’m super happy for that,” Nadal concluded.