New York (AFP) - Rafael Nadal had to calm growing enthusiasm over a possible US Open semi-final clash with old rival Roger Federer by warning reporters against making the two appear "boyfriends".
When asked to describe what he admires most about Federer, also a long-time off-court friend, the world No. 1 was keen to cool the "bromance".
"I don't want to look like I gonna be his boyfriend, no?" said the Spaniard, causing a packed media conference room to burst into laughter.
"We don't want to talk these kind of things before important match. We have a lot of respect for each other, no? We played a lot of times. I think we did important things for tennis. We appreciate that.
"We always had a good relationship. I think he always has been a great ambassador for tennis and for our sport, with good image, of course, and representing good values.
"One important thing that is a great example for kids, doing unbelievable well and doing it with the right attitude.
"That's something I admire as you can admire - I think I answered already."
Nadal and Federer, two of the greatest players of all time, have met 37 times, including 12 at the Grand Slams, but never in New York.
The dream clash this year did not materialise after Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro defeated Federer 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (10-8), 6-4 to book a date with Nadal in the last four.