Tiger Woods delights NY crowd showing his support of Rafa Nadal at U.S. Open

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Tiger Woods delights NY crowd showing his support of Rafa Nadal at U.S. Open

PGA Tour

Tiger Woods delights NY crowd showing his support of Rafa Nadal at U.S. Open

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For Rafael Nadal, the respect he has for Tiger Woods is mutual. With Woods watching his U.S. Open match from a luxury box Sunday night, Nadal was asked by ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi what advice the two may have exchanged about staying competitive late in their careers.

“Well, I don’t think Tiger needs any advice from me especially,”  Nadal said after dispatching Marin Cilic 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 to advance to the 40th Grand Slam quarterfinal of his career. It’s worth noting Rafa turned 33 in June so he’s 10 years younger than Tiger, but like Woods, he has battled injuries late in his career.

“It’s a huge honor playing in front of all of you of course, but to play in front of Tiger for me is a very special thing,” Nadal told the New York crowd. “I always said I never had big idols, but if I had to say one, one idol is him. I always tried to follow him every single shot that he hit during the whole year.

“For me, it’s a big pleasure to have him here supporting.”

Tiger was clearly getting into the match, giving a huge fist pump with son, Charlie, by his side that was captured by photographers. Woods also had his daughter, Sam, and girlfriend, Erica Herman, with him in the box. He has come out to the U.S. Open to cheer on Nadal in the past and last year Woods sat in Serena Williams’ box at Wimbledon with Herman.

Tiger also has been a friend and supporter of Roger Federer, who advanced to the quarterfinals with a straight-set win against David Goffin on Sunday. Woods’ agent reached out to Federer’s camp in 2006 saying Woods wanted to attend the U.S. Open, and the two spoke for the first time in the locker room before Federer’s final against Andy Roddick, according to an ESPN report.

Nadal was asked Sunday if he has played golf with Woods. “Honestly, it’s much better if Tiger doesn’t see my swing. Maybe he can lose a little bit of rhythm after that,” said Nadal, who attended Tiger’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas two years ago.

Tiger Woods watches the match between Rafael Nadal and Marin Cilic in the fourth round at the 2019 U.S. Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. (Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports)

Nadal, ranked No. 2 in the world, moved one step closer to another final showdown against Federer but first he needs to get past Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinals.

The Spaniard lost to Federer at the Wimbledon semifinals in July, a month after winning his 12th French Open title at Roland Garros.

Woods revealed last week that he had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee after the BMW Championship. His doctor said Woods is expected to make a full recovery, and the 43-year-old is expected to play in the Zozo Championship in Japan in October.

Nadal has 18 Grand Slam singles titles in his career, just two behind Federer’s all-time record. Tiger, of course, won his 15th major championship at the Masters in April, three from tying Jack Nicklaus’ record.

 

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