Nadal offers battling example to young players

Sat Jun 28, 2014 3:43pm EDT
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By Clare Lovell

LONDON (Reuters) - Rafael Nadal believes the best example his successful generation have offered up-and-coming tennis players is that they never stop battling to beat each other but remain friends off the court.

The world number one showed his fighting qualities again on Saturday when he lost the first set to unheralded Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin before storming back to win 6-7 (4) 6-1 6-1 6-1 and land a place in Wimbledon's fourth round.

It was the third time in the tournament the French Open champion had staged a fightback while struggling to find his rhythm and footing on grass after the long claycourt season.

Nadal and the other members of the 'big four', Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, have dominated tennis for several years, meeting in most major semi-finals and finals.

"I think it's a good example for the kids, the motivation and passion for the game," the Spaniard told reporters.

"I don't know how many times I've played against Novak, Roger, Andy...a lot of times.

"We only meet each other in semi-finals or finals. That shows we have been in that position a lot of times. That's very difficult mentally and physically," Nadal said.

"The example is we are fighters...for every single tournament. We are fighting for the whole year, another year, another year."   Continued...

Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts after defeating Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan in their men's singles tennis match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London June 28, 2014.          REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett