NEW YORK • Rafael Nadal called Tiger Woods an "amazing inspiration" as the Spaniard had the golf superstar roaring with approval during a majestic US Open performance on Monday.
The 18-time Grand Slam champion advanced to the quarter-final of a Major for the 40th time with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 defeat of Croatia's Marin Cilic.
But it was the reaction of Woods, a winner of 15 golf Majors, to an assortment of sensational Nadal winners during the match that caught the eye at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
A blistering cross-court backhand passing winner off a Cilic overhead elicited a fist pump from a fired-up Woods, who was equally appreciative of an outrageous round-the-net post forehand that brought up match point.
Nadal said: "It means a lot to me to have him supporting. As I said, he's an amazing inspiration, all the things that he accomplished in the sport, the way that he managed to keep fighting that hard.
"Watching him on the golf course has been an example, a real inspiration for me.
"I always say I don't have big idols but one idol is him and I always try to follow him."
"(To) have him supporting and be able to be in touch with him for me is something that I am super happy with."
A CLASS ACT
Watching him on the golf course has been an example, a real inspiration for me.
RAFAEL NADAL, who was moved by Tiger Woods' rousing support during his defeat of Croatia's Marin Cilic in the US Open fourth round.
Nadal, who is a southpaw only when it comes to tennis, is an accomplished right-handed golfer with a reported 1.5 handicap.
Asked if he and Woods had teed it up together, he quipped: "Honestly, it's much better if Tiger doesn't see my swing.
"Maybe he would lose a little bit of rhythm after that."
Like Woods, he has had more than his fair share of injury nightmares but looked healthy and hungry in a bid for his fourth US Open title after 2010, 2013 and 2017.
Woods made a successful return last year, winning the season-ending Tour Championship after missing most of the previous two years through a debilitating back injury.
In April, he posted a memorable victory at the Masters, his first Major win since the 2008 US Open.
Nadal could face Roger Federer in a blockbuster final, in what would be a first-time meeting in New York but the second seed must first overcome 1.7m Diego Schwartzman, who chopped down sixth seed Alexander Zverev 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3.
The Argentinian has faced Nadal seven times and lost every meeting but has proven a difficult test in the Slams, forcing the Spaniard to go four tough sets at the 2018 Australian and French Opens.
"He is playing amazing. It will be a big challenge," Nadal said.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS