Maria Sharapova has drawn the ire of Roger Federer fans after a practice session with Rafael Nadal.
There’s arguably only one thing more intense than the storied Federer-Nadal rivalry, and that’s the rivalry between fans of the tennis legends.
Sharapova giggled with delight as she revealed how she plucked up the courage to ask Nadal for a hit at the Italian Open on Tuesday.
The two former world No.1s practiced together on the red clay of the Foro Italico where they are both multiple winners.
“I saw he was practising on the court right before me,” explained Sharapova, after advancing to the second round on Tuesday past Australian Ashleigh Barty.
“And I said to my team ‘wouldn’t it be amazing if I just came up to Rafa and said ‘would you hit a couple balls with me?’
“And they’re like, yeah, what’s wrong with that? And I was like, a lot of things. There’s a lot of things wrong with just coming up to Rafa.
“They’re like, no, you should. It’s not like you’re asking him to go on a date. And so I did.
“He probably thought I was really weird. I think he still thinks I’m really weird.”
The Russian was overjoyed at being able to rally with the 16-time Grand Slam champion, tweeting: “Two minutes on court with the GOAT @RafaelNadal #BucketList Was so nervous.”
However fans of Federer have taken exception to Sharapova’s tweet labelling Nadal the GOAT, which stands for ‘Greatest Of All Time’.
I'm sorry, I don't see Federer anywhere in this video..hmm, strange.
— Reid, Tomaz (@ThaLightUp) May 14, 2018
Roger is the GOAT FYI
— Andy Kessler (@kessler_andy) May 15, 2018
Federer ist GOAT!!!
— Sela (@Sela8383) May 15, 2018
Nadal and Sharapova will always be behind Federer and Serena
"Real goats" pic.twitter.com/q2bh3J4Y4Z
— WR (@WHR06) May 15, 2018
Well, first of all, I feel like I can positively say that nearly everyone including me obviously know that Roger Federer is absolutely the GOAT of tennis.I personally have no idea why you even think that Rafael Nadal is in fact the GOAT of tennis, but he’s obviously not.
— Samuel Charlton (@SamuelCharlton6) May 15, 2018
— Ubaid Ur Rehman (@Ubaidurrrehman) May 15, 2018
— cнarloттe (@carlottagh9) May 14, 2018
Where is roger federer on screen….aharapova r u back on heavy dose of drugs or medicines???
— saifee barbhaya (@hotsaif52) May 15, 2018
I was waiting for Federer to appear in the video ♂️
— RFC (@rfta28) May 15, 2018
The Federer-Nadal GOAT debate has been raging for years, with Federer fans pointing to his 20 grand slam titles as opposed to Nadal’s 16 as their main argument.
However Nadal fans believe the Spaniard’s 23-16 head-to-head record with the Swiss Maestro outweighs the title count.
Despite sitting out the entire clay-court season, Federer has managed to reclaim the World No.1 ranking from Nadal.
Nadal suffered his first clay-court defeat in almost a year in a shock 7-5, 6-3 loss to Austria’s Dominic Thiem in the Madrid Masters quarter-finals on Saturday.