Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are key to each other's desires to remain at the pinnacle of tennis according to women's world no. 5 Karolina Pliskova, who does not think Federer is playing any better now than he was a couple of seasons ago.
Federer's remarkable Indian summer continued last week when he reclaimed the world no.1 ranking from Nadal at the Rotterdam Open, a tournament he later won with consummate ease, beating Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets in the final on Sunday (18 February).
Nadal will hope to claw back ground on Federer at the forthcoming Mexican Open, and Pliskova, who once took pride of place at the top of the WTA rankings, thinks the friendly but fierce rivalry is helping the pair to maintain their competitive streak and stay at the very top of the sport they have largely dominated for over a decade.
"By having Nadal there, I think it helps him (Federer) remain ultra-competitive," Pliskova said, per Tennis World USA.
"This is helping both to get better still, although they don't even have to play because they have won so many things. But they're still trying to be the best. For them, I think to get back to no.1, it's amazing and special."
Federer's late-career displays have left some tennis experts and former greats baffled, but Pliskova does not think the 20-time Grand Slam champion is outperforming his younger self.
The Czech, who has only reached the final of a major tournament once but is still looked upon as one of the best female tennis players in the world, thinks Federer's seemingly inexplicable late flourish is nothing more than a mere purple patch.
"I think for me Roger's not playing better than he was playing a couple of years ago, but right now he has found a great form. I feel like he's enjoying what he's doing. It's always fun to watch him," Pliskova said.