MADRID — Iga Swiatek would have done the same thing if she were in Pedro Cachin’s shoes.

On Monday at the Mutua Madrid Open, the 29-year-old Argentine fulfilled his lifelong dream of sharing the court with his idol, Rafael Nadal. After a hard-fought three-set loss to Nadal, Cachin thanked Nadal at the net and asked for his shirt as a memento, a time-honored custom of respect and admiration in soccer. Nadal was happy to oblige.

On Tuesday, after advancing to her third WTA 1000 semifinal of the season in Madrid, Swiatek was asked if she has ever experienced the same impulse.

“Not really, but if I would play against Rafa, for sure I would ask for a T-shirt,” she said, laughing.

Courtesy of Rafa Nadal Academy

Something tells us Swiatek wouldn’t need to go so far as to stand across the net from her idol to get her souvenir request heard. As the 22-year-old has emerged as the dominant force on clay on the Hologic WTA Tour, she’s been able to run in similar circles with Nadal.

Last year, after winning her third Roland Garros title, Swiatek was invited to Mallorca to give a keynote speech at the Rafa Nadal Academy’s graduation ceremony.

“For sure he was a huge inspiration, but I said ‘was’ because when I was younger he was basically the only player I looked up to, but not because of his game on clay,” Swiatek said. “More because of the way he is off the court and how he never gives up, and also his mentality.”


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