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Rafael Nadal and Rod Laver have 29 Grand Slam singles titles between them.

Nadal's Mutual Admiration Society: Laver, Tiger & US Open Crowds

Second seed advances to quarter-finals on Monday

Rafael Nadal has earned respect among the legends of the game with on-court talent and off-court class. Rod Laver is among those who consider themselves a fan of the Spaniard.

The Aussie is at the US Open for the final leg of his Grand Slam tour this year, with each event holding special ceremonies to commemorate his second Calendar Grand Slam 50 years ago. Laver presented Nadal with his 12th Roland Garros title in June and they reunited again before main draw action started in New York, with the Spaniard praising Laver as fully deserving of his global celebration.

“[It] means a lot that he's still around our sport. When we see him following our events, it makes the events more special and more important,” Nadal said after his fourth-round win on Monday over Marin Cilic. “[It’s] so important that our Tour pay the right tribute to all these legends. Rod is one of them, of course, one of the best of our sport ever. Probably if he will not turn professional during all these years, maybe he would win more Grand Slams than anyone playing today.

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“Just for that case he can be considered top of the history of this sport. Having him him around means a lot for the fans, means a lot for the tournaments, for the players. What makes the sport bigger and more important is the combinations of new great things with the tradition and with past legends.

But it’s not just tennis legends who support Nadal. Golf superstar Tiger Woods was in the stands for his match against Cilic and, at times, fist pumped just as intensely as the World No. 2. Nadal was also present for Woods’ golf comeback in the Bahamas in December 2017 and they remain in touch throughout the year.

“It means a lot to me to have him supporting. He's an amazing inspiration, all the things that he accomplish on the sport, the way that he managed to keep fighting that hard,” Nadal said. “To have him supporting and be able to be in touch with him very often for me is something that I am super happy [about]. I hope one day we can play golf and tennis together.”

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The second seed now turns his attention to a quarter-final battle against No. 20 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina. Nadal has been feeding off the vibes inside Arthur Ashe Stadium this fortnight and said the energy of New York crowds still haven’t gotten old after 15 US Open appearances.”

“Difficult to describe the feelings, honestly. So special to see this amazing crowd supporting,” Nadal said. “I always had a great connection with the crowd here in New York. They are very energetic, very passionate. I consider myself like this, especially on court.

Matches like this, you come back to the hotel with plenty of energy because I really enjoyed a lot playing in front of the full crowd. Arthur Ashe Stadium here in New York, night session. It's difficult to be better.”

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