Nadal hails ‘unbelievable’ McIlroy as inspiration
RORY MCILROY’S ground-breaking display at the US Open has prompted awe from beyond his own sport, with even tennis legend Rafael Nadal revealing how the Ulsterman’s brilliance is an "inspiration" for him as he sets out on the defence of his Wimbledon title.
The Spaniard, who met McIlroy at the US Open championships last year, has been astonished by the 22-year-old’s “unbelievable” performance at Congressional and spent the eve of his championship defence at SW19 talking of his admiration for the man who could do for golf what he has done for tennis. “For sure, Rory is an inspiration. I admire him a lot,” said Nadal. “I love watching Rory. What he’s doing is really something unbelievable.
“I love golf and follow almost every week the tour. He has probably one of the nicest swings in the world, if not the nicest. “Always, I will be supporting him in the final round because I think he deserves the title.” It appears the admiration is mutual. After they got on so famously at Flushing Meadows, Nadal, a sevenhandicapper, told McIlroy his dream was to play St Andrews, leaving the Ulsterman to respond: “Any time you want a partner, I’ll be there.” McIlroy admitted that the Spaniard had become a “great role model” for him. “I couldn’t believe how modest Rafa is after all the success he’s had and all the money he has won,” he said.
“There are things in his demeanour I’d love to have: his never-say-die attitude, his willingness to fight for every point. I’d like to become more like him.” He has been backed to fill the void left by Tiger Woods and become golf’s new poster boy. McIlroy lists 10 endorsement contracts on his personal website but he can expect a flood of new offers after his dramatic performances in Maryland. His personable nature, clean image and, most important of all, exceptional talent make him an obvious target for corporate America, particularly in the absence of Woods. The American’s contracts included a £6.6million tie-up with General Motors, a £10m contract with Gillette and a deal with Gatorade, a sports drink manufacturers, worth in excess of £60.3m, although several of his deals were not renewed in the wake of his well-publicised personal problems.
McIlroy is not in the Woods league yet, but if anyone could prove an able substitute for the former world No1, it is the Ulsterman. “He fills a void,” said Andrew Chandler, McIlroy’s manager. “They’ve taken to him because he is so engaging. His popularity is amazing.