How Maria Sharapova Ended Up Hitting With Rafael Nadal
The five-time grand slam champion explains how she managed to practice against the king of clay in Rome.
Earlier this week a video surfaced of former world No.1s Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal practising together at the Italian Open.
The two players have a combined grand slam tally of 21 titles and have earned millions in prize money. Sharapova currently has $37,389,452 in earnings compared to Nadal’s $96,884,842. Hitting a lengthy rally on a court at the Foro Italico, some are wondering how the session came about.
On Tuesday Sharapova spoke about how it occurred following her first round win. The Russian world No.40 dismissed 16th seed Ashleigh Barty 7-5, 3-6, 6-2. Setting up a showdown with former Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova. A player she hasn’t faced on the tour since 2014.
“I saw he was practising on the court right before me,” Sharapova said during her press conference.
“And I said to my team ‘wouldn’t it be amazing if I just came up to Rafa and said ‘would you hit a couple balls with me?’
“And they’re like, yeah, what’s wrong with that? And I was like, a lot of things. There’s a lot of things wrong with just coming up to Rafa.
“They’re like, no, you should. It’s not like you’re asking him to go on a date. And so I did.
“He probably thought I was really weird. I think he still thinks I’m really weird.”
— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) May 14, 2018
The video of the two has since exploded on Twitter. As of Wednesday morning, it has been retweeted more than 6300 times and has have received over 729,000 views. According to socialbearing.com, it is the most successful tweet of all-time (in terms of favourites and retweets) created on Sharapova’s Twitter account.
Now her session with Nadal has been ticked off on her bucket list, does Sharapova have any other players in mind that she want to hit with? One potential name mentioned is 20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer. The Swiss player is currently absent from the clay season as he prepares for the grass.
“I don’t know. Who knows? I don’t know whether I’ll get the confidence to do it or I’ll just be shy.” She replied when asked if she would ask Federer to hit with her in the future.
In the past Sharapova has been on the same court as Federer, but playing with him and not against him. In 2011 the pair teamed up to play in the Nike Clash of The Champions. Taking on Nadal and Victoria Azarenka.
Sharapova will play her second round match at the Italian Open on Wednesday afternoon. Her head-to-head record against Cibulkova stands at 3-3.