Former world No.1 players Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova have stunned fans at the Italian Open on Monday with a rare mixed training session.
The grand slam champions were preparing for their opening matches at the Rome tournament when their schedules clashed, with Sharapova arriving at a practice court before Nadal had finished his workout.
And so rather than standing awkwardly by the side, Sharapova hit the court for a couple of rallies with the Spanish great.
“Two minutes on court with the GOAT,” Sharapova wrote on Twitter.
“#BucketList. Was so nervous.”
Nadal replied: “Thanks Maria! It’s been a pleasure hitting with the you a few balls.”
Despite sharing tournaments around the world, it’s not often the top singles stars take to the court together.
Perth’s Hopman Cup is a rare example, witnessing all-time pairings such as Roger Federer and Martina Hingis as well as Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic.
American doubles legend Pam Shriver teamed up with the great John McEnroe at the 1990 edition, and nearly 30 years on she has called on more players follow the lead of Sharapova and Nadal.
“Love seeing this practice!!!” Shriver wrote on Twitter.
“Let’s see more future collaborations @ATPWorldTour @WTA on court and in the meeting rooms!”
Sharapova will open her campaign against Australian 16th seed Ash Barty on Tuesday night.
Nadal, who received a bye in the first round, will face either Fernando Verdasco or Damir Dzumhur in his first match.
The Spaniard lost the No.1 ranking to Roger Federer after a shock defeat to Dominic Thiem in Madrid last week.
Nadal had been dominant early in the clay-court season and remains the favourite for a 12th Roland Garros title.