Rafa Nadal has established himself as one of the greatest players to have ever wielded a tennis racket. Many of his fans know that he is an avid footballer as well, and he has a close relationship with Spanish giants Real Madrid. Ahead of the announcement of this year's Ballon d'Or winner, the 20-time Grand Slam champion has openly backed Los Blancos forward Karim Benzema to win the coveted trophy.

Nadal, who rarely posts personal sentiments on his social media accounts if they are not related to tennis, took to Twitter on Tuesday to support Benzema. "My admiration for him as a player, his commitment to the sport and his professionalism at his age," Nadal tweeted. "Good luck – with my support – for the 2021 Ballon d'Or."

Rafael Nadal
A familiar sight: Rafael Nadal gets his hands on the Coupe des Mousquetaires for a 13th time AFP / Anne-Christine POUJOULAT

Benzema has been creating a lot of buzz this season, after taking La Liga by storm and re-establishing his place in the French national squad. The number nine has already scored nine goals and has provided seven assists in only nine La Liga appearanes in the current campaign.

He also played a vital role in helping France lift their first Nations League trophy just a few weeks ago. Benzema has become a vital member of the French squad after returning from a five-year exile thanks to his legal battle with former France teammate Mathieu Valbuena.

He has finally come into his own and is currently the undisputed king of La Liga, especially since the departures of both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Meanwhile, despite now playing for other clubs, Messi and Ronaldo are still contenders for the prize. Messi is now with Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain, with Ronaldo finding his way back to Manchester United in England. Bayern Munich star Roberto Lewandowski is still a favourite, after missing out on the prize last season which many believed to be his had it not been cancelled.

Chelsea's Jorginho also has an outside chance, meaning that Benzema is certainly not a shoo-in for the trophy.

Nadal's opinion may not necessarily make a difference in the final outcome, but the Frenchman will surely appreciate the support from the tennis legend.