Last Updated: 15/04/19 5:31pm
Rafael Nadal says Tiger Woods’ fifth Masters title left him very emotional as he lauded his “favourite sportsman in the world” for his determination to return to the top once again.
Woods sealed his 15th major – and first since the 2008 US Open – by a two-shot margin after an enthralling final round at Augusta.
Praise has poured in for the 43-year-old American, who has defied expectations to compete at the top echelons of the sport after years of personal problems and persistent injuries.
Nadal has also endured his own troubles with injury during his distinguished career and the 17-time Grand Slam champion recognised the achievement of another sporting great.
“It has been amazing. I’ve said it hundreds of times, he’s probably my favourite sportsman in the world since a long time ago,” Nadal said.
“It has been some tough years for for him and you know, I can’t be more happy about the victory of yesterday. You imagine all the processes I’m told (about), all that he had to do to be back on a golf course. It’s so difficult.
“All the things that he did – and finally to win a major again, especially at Augusta, probably his favourite one, means everything for for him.
“I really know a little bit how hard he worked to be back and I just have been very emotional.”
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Nadal, an 11-time champion in Monte-Carlo, says Woods’ triumph should act as a great example of an athlete’s desire and perseverance to overcome significant hurdles in their careers.
“He’s a good example of a passion for sport. Discipline in terms of hard work and love for the game,” Nadal added.
“That’s what he for sure feels it to be. To be back to what he he is and being honest, the celebration of yesterday where he was walking with the family… has been one of the moments that I will not forget.”
Nadal will be aiming to win his first title of the season this week as he begins his clay-court campaign and will face a hard challenge to match his achievements on the surface last year, when he lost just one match.
The world No 2 pulled out of his semi-final against Roger Federer at Indian Wells and subsequently missed the Miami Open because of a knee injury, having twice been hit by physical complaints on the Grand Slam stage last year.
“Having (had) a tough year and a half for me so it’s tough to have a clear view about how I am. Because I had too many stops in between (last season),” the 32-year-old said.
“I didn’t find the way to play three weeks in a row without problems, so it has been hard for me personally.
“So it’s normal that when you have these things going on, in the mental part, you are a little bit more up and down.”
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