Tennis legend Roger Federer has hailed rival Rafael Nadal calling him the most inspiring and influential player in tennis history, claiming that he would not be player he was if it wasn't for the presence of the Spaniard and his challenges.
Federer, who is the most successful single player in tennis history with 17 Grand Slam titles against his name, admitted it was the Spaniard who forced him to re-invent his game which has made him what he is today.
"I've been around the game for 17 years. I've seen a lot of hard workers and inspiring players, but you've been the one in my opinion who has been the most inspiring and most influential and made me the player I am today. Because you're left-handed, because of your spin, because of the intensity you bring on the court, I had to re-invent and re-work my game entirely. And that's because of the person you are and how much you've trained", Federer said, as quoted by atptour.com.
Federer and Nadal have been part of the biggest matches in tennis history and have faced off 34 times in the past, including 21 tournament finals with the Spaniard holding a 23-11 advantage and has won five of their past six matches. Federer though won their most recent encounter when he beat Nadal to win the Swiss Indoor tournament at Basel last season.
"I've seen you prepare for tournaments and practices the same way, which I can't do, because my mind doesn't allow me to, I can't prepare for matches and practices this long. We're completely different when it comes to this. I admire everything and how you do it, and I hope you can still do it for many more years to come. I really wish you good health. I think it's of the utmost importance", the former world number one added.
Both of them have not had the best of times on the court recently, suffering from injury issues which has restricted their participation in recent times. Federer in particular suffered his first major injury in 17 years of his professional career and has opted out from participating for the rest of the year in order to rest.