Tennis

Rafael Nadal’s ‘idol’ Tiger Woods roars him on to 40th Major q-final

Rafael Nadal called Tiger Woods an "amazing inspiration" as the Spaniard had the golf superstar roaring with approval during a majestic US Open performance yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The 18-time Grand Slam champion advanced to the quarter-final of a Major for the 40th time in his glittering career with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 win over Croatia's Marin Cilic.

But it was the reaction of Woods, a winner of 15 golf Majors, to an assortment of sensational Nadal winners during a crucial section of the match that caught the eye at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

A blistering cross-court backhand passing winner off a Cilic overhead elicited a fired-up fist-pump from Woods, who was equally appreciative of an outrageous round-the-netpost forehand that brought up match-point.

"It means a lot to me to have him supporting. As I said, he's an amazing inspiration, all the things that he accomplished in the sport, the way that he managed to keep fighting that hard," Nadal said.

"Watching him on the golf course, has been an example, a real inspiration for me.

"(To) have him supporting and be able to be in touch with him very often, for me, is something that I am super happy... I hope one day we can play golf and tennis together."

Nadal, who like Woods has endured more than his fair share of injury nightmares, looked healthy and hungry at Flushing Meadows, where he is chasing a fourth US Open title.

Nadal could conceivably face old r ival Roger Federer in a blockbuster final, in what would be a first-time meeting in New York, but first the second seed must next overcome Argentine Diego Schwartzman, who chopped down sixth seed Alexander Zverev.

"He is playing amazing, nothing new, he's one of the players with the best talent on tour," he said of Schwartzman, who won 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3. - AFP

Tennis