Andrey Rublev waxes lyrical about Rafael Nadal as he explains why Spaniard is ‘best athlete in history’

Andrey Rublev

Fresh from winning his fourth title of the season, Andrey Rublev has declared Rafael Nadal the player he admires most in tennis, saying he is “the best athlete, not even in tennis, the best athlete in history”.

The Russian won his sixth ATP Tour title on Sunday when he beat Borna Coric in straight sets in the St Petersburg Open final and the win saw him rise to a career-high of No 8 in the rankings.

While Rublev is one of the rising stars in tennis, he is determined to improve further and he hopes to take a leaf out of Nadal’s book.

Spaniard Nadal won a 13th French Open title a fortnight ago to draw level with Roger Federer on 20 Grand Slam titles.

“I cannot imagine how — I’m not even talking about [just at] the Grand Slams — it is possible what he is doing,” Rublev said, as quoted by tennisbuzz. “To be mentally that strong all your life and all your career, I don’t know how it is possible.”

What impresses Rublev most is Nadal’s ability to put his emotions to one side and focus on the job at hand.

“Every player, even Roger or even Novak [Djokovic], they had one moment in their career when they were mentally a little bit down or they could get a little bit emotionally down during the match and, if something happens, they could lose or something,” he said. “Rafa is the only one player in history that it doesn’t matter how he feels, bad or good. In the end he always finds a way to win.

“If he is not winning, he is losing in three sets after three hours if it is not [at] a Grand Slam. If it is [at] a Grand Slam, it is going to be five hours and [against] the players that are really good… I don’t know how it is possible to be this strong mentally during all his career.”

The Russian also feels Nadal is “the best athlete in history”.

He added: “Even if you take other sportsmen or athletes, they can have bad days. But because maybe the team is good, they are still winning.

“In tennis, if you are having a really bad day… it is really tough to find a way [to win] and compete like nothing happened. He has done this during all his career. For me he is the best athlete, not even in tennis, the best athlete in history.”

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