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Nadal makes 97-year-old tennis player’s dream come true

Rafael Nadal and 97-year Leonid Stanislavskyi


Rafael Nadal helped to fulfil the dreams of a 97-year-old man by rallying with him at the Rafa Nadal Academy. Leonid Stanislavskyi holds the Guinness World Record for being the oldest pro player in the International Tennis Federation rankings, and said his dream was to visit the tennis academy run by the Spaniard in his hometown of Manacor.

Nadal is currently sidelined as he continues to recover from a left foot injury he aggravated at the French Open.

The world No 5 played just two matches after losing to Djokovic in the Roland Garros semi-final, later shutting down his season to undergo an “aggressive” medical procedure and recover from his injury.

He has since made a return to the practice courts, and now seems to have a new practice partner he has never faced before.

Leonid Stanislavskyi, the oldest professional player with an ITF ranking, revealed it was his dream to visit the Rafa Nadal Academy, run by the man himself in his home of Mallorca, and to meet the 20-time Grand Slam champion.

Nadal delighted the 97-year-old by inviting him to the academy, and even got on the court with the oldest pro player in the world.

The Ukranian, who is ranked world No 31 in the ITF’s singles 90+ rankings, asked to play a point with the 35-year-old, who happily obliged.

After a lengthy rally, Stanislavskyi was declared the winner against his hero.

The 97-year-old recently competed in the 40th ITF Super-Seniors World Individual Championships for those aged 65-and-over, held in Mallorca.

He lost in the first round of the main draw in the 90+ age category, but made it to the quarter-finals of the ‘consolation draw’ in the 85+ group.

Stanislavskyi’s heartwarming meeting with the former world No 1 comes just weeks after Nadal surprised one of his oldest fans with a video message on his 90th birthday.

Nadal moved the man, known as ‘O Parrallo’ to tears when he sent a personal birthday wish to the grandfather as he celebrated his 90th on October 20.

READ ALSORafael Nadal: ‘I Don’t Know When I Will Play Again’

Earlier this month, the man’s granddaughter Pilar Leon reached out to the world No 5 on Twitter to ask for a birthday with for her grandfather, and shared a touching update on his 90th last week, revealing Nadal has reached out and sent a message to celebrate his milestone birthday.

“Today is a very special day because it’s your birthday. I send you a big hug and I wish you a happy birthday and all the best”, Nadal said in Spanish, addressing Pilar’s grandfather.





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