Record 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal praised Alexei Popyrin after their clash at the Madrid Masters. Nadal, ranked at No. 2 in the world, handed a 6-3 6-3 loss to Popyrin in the Madrid Masters round-of-16. Nadal lost his serve once in the first set but claimed three breaks to easily win the opener.
Nadal started the second set with an early break and then held on to his serve to claim a routine win. "Well, his power on the shots is amazing, yeah. I mean, if he is able to control little bit the mistakes, then going to be very difficult to beat him, no? He has an amazing serve and amazing shots from everywhere, yeah," Nadal said of Popyrin.
"Let's see what's going on in the future. If he is able to work the proper way, he's going to be in the high positions of the rankings fighting for things
Nadal admired Ronaldo Luís Nazario de Lima
"Well, I always admire the top athletes, no? I am a big fan of sport.
When I was a kid, Ronaldo was playing in Barcelona with my uncle. So, yeah, have been one of my favorite football players of all time, one of the best players that I saw play," Nadal said. Nadal is a big Real Madrid fan and he watched his team lose in the Champions League semifinal this week.
Despite the loss, Nadal hopes Zinedine Zidane will remain the head coach of Real Madrid. "Yeah, I saw the match. Well, like a spectator, I have to say I'm very proud of my team. Of course, I don't like to lose. With all the difficulties that we had during the whole season with, I don't know, 60 injuries, is difficult to be where we were until yesterday, no, fighting for the two most important competitions we having playing: semifinals on the Champions League, and still fighting for La Liga," Nadal said.
"For me 100% Zidane is one of my favorites, without a doubt. Great person, great values for Real Madrid. Yeah, I mean, I think the season is doing great after all the bad luck with injuries that we had. Difficult to ask for more.
"So if I will be the one to decide, of course I don't have any doubt that Zidane is the right guy to prepare probably the next team."