Rafael Nadal’s three-word French Open comment to Coco Gauff left her speechless

Rafael Nadal’s three-word French Open comment to Coco Gauff left her speechless

Coco Gauff has gushed over Rafael Nadal as the tennis legend gears up for what is set to be his last-ever French Open appearance. Nadal has won at Roland Garros a record 14 times but his backstage conversation with the American will live long in the memory, despite Gauff being shellshocked at the time.

Gauff opened up on a chance encounter with Nadal at last year’s French Open, where she reached the quarter-final. Paris has been a strong venue for the US Open champion, having made it to the final the previous year, and she clearly caught Nadal’s attention.

“He’s a very nice person,” Gauff recalled. “I remember last year at Roland Garros, he touched me on the back and said: ‘Hi, good job.’ I didn’t respond like till 20 tiles already down the stairs because I couldn’t believe he spoke to me. I think it’s little things like that that I’ll miss seeing on tour. The way he carries himself is just great.

“His legacy is going to be something that is almost, like, unmatched when it comes to just the intensity in which he approaches everything. I think that’s something that the players will miss and the fans will miss.”

Gauff even admitted to ‘zoning out’ during her own practice sessions when Nadal is nearby, in awe of the 37-year-old who she struggled to speak with at the French Open. She admitted that the idea of Nadal retiring has only recently sunk in, with the upcoming visit to Roland Garros his last as a professional player, but she will certainly miss watching the Spaniard out on the court.

“Honestly, it’s very weird for me as a fan to come to terms with just because the majority of my life he’s been the Roland-Garros winner,” Gauff added. “Yeah, I mean, I guess it’s now hitting. I think I was in Madrid. It didn’t really hit that he was retiring yet. Now when I saw them do the little ceremony after, I was like this is real life, this is for real.

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