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“This Kid Is Something Else”: When tennis legend spoke of losing to 14-year-old Rafael Nadal

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The world knows all about the greatness that Spain Rafael Nadal has achieved on the field. The former Australian major, Pat Cash, had a unique encounter with the King of Clay that few know.

As a last-minute replacement for German Boris Becker, Cash faced the then junior world champion, 14-year-old Nadal. And the story went exactly as you would expect.

In Mallorca, the Australian took his place against the ever-energetic Spaniard. On his first thoughts when the match started, Pat remembered the determination that Nadal had shown. Cash told.

Apparently he didn’t hit the ball that hard then, but he played with the same intensity, topspin. I was quite shocked [smiles].

I was nice to Rafael Nadal: Cash losing the first set

Rafael Nadal - ATP Finals, London
Tennis – ATP Finals – The O2, London, UK – November 19, 2020, Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates after winning his group match against Stefanos Tsitsipas from Greece Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs

During his journey of 20 Grand Slams, Nadal has always been in the shadow of Roger Federer. But the determination of the Spaniards is out of the world as he remains at the top of his game. Cash didn’t know that at the time.

As a young kid his age it wasn’t something I couldn’t handle, but the crowd was quite amused when he won the first set against me. I was nice to him. Okay, no more Mr. Nice Guy, because this guy is really good. He will beat me if he can said Australian Pat Cash.

Cash realized he had to go the extra mile to resist the gritty Spaniard. He was preparing and ready for the second set against now world number 2.

Rafael Nadal at French Open 2020
Spanish Rafael Nadal in action during his semi-final against Diego Schwartzman REUTERS / Charles Platiau from Argentina

Cash comfortably won the second set against Nadal

He won the first set and the audience thought it was hilarious. They roared for us. So we were on the court together and I started charging chips, serving and volleying, things like that, and won the second set quite comfortably, 6-2 I think.

The story then moved on to a close 10-point tiebreaker that separated the winner from the loser.

99 percent of the children would have suffocated and fell apart. He just tore it up all over the field, and hit some incredible winners. I was 38 then and still hit the ball pretty well, Cash explained.

This guy is something different: Pat Cash on Rafa Nadal

Over the years, Nadal has taken many victories from the clutches of defeat. That same competitive attitude burns with the same intensity even after 20 years in Nadal.

Cash known, I lost that game. I don’t remember what the score was, but it was close. He didn’t get nervous or anything. He clearly had nothing to lose. But I came into the locker room after that, the guys kind of looked at me just to watch my reaction. And my reaction lost to a 14 year old and I just looked at them and said, Wow, this boy is something else!

Nadal is currently campaigning to win the ATP Finals title, a title he has never won before. He is in the semi-finals after defeating the Greeks Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Also read: It’s just different: Taylor Fritz ranks Rafael Nadal ahead of peers



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