Kasatkina on Key Quality She’d Take From Nadal


By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Continuing his quest for a record-extending 14th Roland Garros crown, Rafael Nadal faces Alexander Zverev in the semifinals on Friday.

Even on an off day, the king of clay will be all over Court Philippe Chatrier on Thursday.

More: Swiatek Sweeps Into Kasatkina Showdown

That’s when world No. 1 Iga Swiatek faces 20th-seeded Daria Kasatkina in a Roland Garros semifinal of Nadal super fans.

Both Kasatkina and Swiatek regard Rafa as a major role model in their careers.

The pair—along with Spanish star Paula Badosa—are among the most devoted Nadal fans on the WTA Tour, though Kasatkina concedes she fell asleep with the Grand Slam king up a set and 3-0 on rival Novak Djokovic on Tuesday night because she had to rest for her quarterfinal vs. Veronika Kudermetova today.

So what’s the one weapon Kasatkina would take from Nadal?

Asked that question in her Paris presser, Kasatkina didn’t pick the Spaniard’s speed around the court, his twisting topspin forehand or his emphatic overhead, widely regarded as one of the best in history.

Instead, Kasatkina says “fighting spirit” is the Rafa weapon she’d want most.

“I said many times that he was my idol since I’m kid,” Kasatkina said of Nadal. “So of course when I was small I was trying to copy his game.

“If I say that I want to be this, to have this mental toughness as he has, it’s so typical to say this because it’s so obvious that he’s the best fighter in the history of sport maybe. So, I mean this one is, and this is the most important.

“You can have the best backhand, forehand, serve, forever, but if you cannot fight, you can not win. So I think the fighting spirit is the most important.”

Contesting her first Grand Slam semifinal in her 26th major appearance, Kasatkina will try to summon the fighting spirit against 2020 champion Swiatek tomorrow.

Back in 2020, Kasatkina told Tennis Now she cried seeing Nadal capture his 13th Roland Garros crown in the first French Open fall final.

“Yes, that was sweet,” Kasatkina said. “I was enjoying so much watching the final and I was crying with him while he was staying with the [Coupe des Mousquetaires].

“The tears were falling from his eyes, it was very sweet.”

Kasatkina praised her hero’s humble nature, noting his appreciation of the moment and his passion for the sport impresses her even more than his tennis.

Photo credit: Daria Kasatkina Instagram

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