Tennis fans have rediscovered the stunning photo and 20-year-old Rafael Nadal is training at the US Open with an even younger Naomi Osaka watching in the background like an eager fan.
Nadal and Osaka became two of the sport’s biggest names, but fans have noticed an amazing detail in an old photo of Nadal training at Arthur Ashe Stadium in 2006.
The 20-year-old, still wearing longer trousers, practiced the run that saw him reach the quarter-finals.
And in the background, eight-year-old Ósaka can be seen in the first row, carefully watching Nadal train.
She is seen with her sister Mari, who is a retired tennis player.
Little did Osaka know that she would win two US Open titles in 2018 and 2020.
Since that photo, Nadal himself has won four US Open titles and an incredible 22 Grand Slams.
The tennis world was quick to acknowledge the throwback photo, which shows one future tennis great watching another build an unprecedented career.
In the past, Osaka has revealed she is inspired by Nadal and admits she still watches his footage to improve her own game.
The 24-year-old said she took confidence from Nadal’s return to the tour in 2022 ahead of her own clay court season.
Osaka admitted that she still watches footage of Nadal to make adjustments to her least favorite surface.
“Watching Nadal, Iga does that too, which I think is really cool, as well as knowing when to hit a forehand instead of a backhand and knowing when to run through,” Osaka said in a post-match press conference.
“I think a lot of really good clay players do it, so I try to learn it too.
Naomi Osaka and Rafa Nadal play at the Toronto Open
Both Osaka and Nadal are set to compete at the Canadian Open next month to begin their hard-court campaigns.
Nadal was forced to withdraw from Wimbledon semi-final clash with Nick Kyrgios after suffering another abdominal injury during his epic five-set match against Taylor Fritz.
The Spaniard reportedly suffered a seven-millimeter tear that sidelined him for a number of weeks.
While Nadal recently took time off to rest from his grass-court campaign, the 22-time Grand Slam champion was filmed back on court ahead of his expected return.
Osaka opted to miss Wimbledon due to injury, giving her an opportunity to recover in time for the pressure of the US Open.
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