Belfast Telegraph

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Rory McIlroy an inspiration to me, says Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal says he’s proud to be a member of the Rory McIlroy fan club.

Holywood’s golfing genius is basking in the glory of his US Open heroics and he will be able to tell his pal Nadal all about it when he attends Wimbledon this week as a special guest.

Nadal is focused on defending his Wimbledon crown and he takes fresh inspiration from the McIlroy story as he aims to stay number one in the world in his chosen sport.

The world class duo became buddies after meeting at tennis's US Open in New York last September, where Nadal won his ninth Grand Slam title and his first at Flushing Meadows.

McIlroy, who has a tennis court in the garden of his home, had been playing golf at the Deutsche Bank Championship in Massachusetts and jumped at the chance to meet an athlete he has described as a ‘role model’.

The 22-year-old remains a big supporter of Nadal — a seven-handicap golfer — and the respect and admiration between the two is mutual.

“What Rory's doing is really something unbelievable. I met him in New York last year. I love golf. I follow almost every week of the tour,” said Nadal.

“I love watching Rory. He has one of the nicest swings in the world, if not the nicest. It's fantastic to watch him.

“He had a very tough fourth round at Augusta this year and he deserves to win a major because, in my opinion, right now he's playing at a different level than the rest. He is an inspiration. I admire him a lot.”

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