Former crush's candid confession about Roger Federer

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor
Gabriela Sabatini says she has run into Roger and Mirka Federer in Zurich before. Image: Getty

Gabriela Sabatini has spoken of her admiration for Roger Federer, revealing a chance encounter she had with the tennis legend and wife Mirka.

Sabatini, who Federer actually admitted he had a crush on when he first burst onto the pro tennis circuit as a teenager, says the Swiss Maestro is her favourite player.

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“Obviously I admire Roger Federer. It is a pleasure to see him play,” the former World No.2 and 1990 US Open champion told Argentine newspaper La Nacion recently.

The Argentinian player now resides in Zurich and said she bumped into Federer with his family.

“When we met once in the streets of downtown Zurich, it was a total coincidence,” Sabatini said. 

“But it happened. I happened to be walking along Bahnhofstrasse, the city's main street, and he was there with his wife and daughters.

Gabriela Sabatini in action at Wimbledon in 1995. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Allsport/Getty Images)

“That was a few years ago. It was pure coincidence, although we are always in contact. 

“When he came to Buenos Aires, he visited me. I really admire him very much.”

When Federer was first making his name in tennis, he was actually coerced by the press into admitting Sabatini was his childhood crush, according to Sportskeeda.

“I had the chance to get to know you,” Sabatini said to Federer in a video message during his recent tour of South America.

“We are very lucky in the tennis world to have you for all the good that you represent. And as a person you are the best.”

And the admiration goes both ways, with Federer also heaping praise on Sabatini.

“Gabriela Sabatini for me was like one of my favourite players growing up,” Federer said previously.

“I watched her rivalry with Steffi Graf and then Martina Hingis came.

“Gaby's been fantastic. She invited me last time to her apartment here in Buenos Aires. I remember she did dinner for us.”

Nadal’s uncle says Federer not the toughest opponent

Meanwhile, Toni Nadal says Roger Federer is the best tennis player of the current generation but reigning world No.1 Novak Djokovic remains the most difficult opponent in Rafa Nadal's career.

Federer, who will be 39 in August, is nearing the end of a glittering career and leads the race on 20 Grand Slam singles titles, with Spaniard Nadal close on his heels with 19.

Djokovic is three behind the Swiss with 17 majors and is a year younger than Nadal, who turns 34 next month.

“For me, he (Federer) is a wonderful player. I like to watch Roger Federer a lot,” Toni told Eurosport's Players' Cut programme, which features Nadal this week.

“If I wasn't the uncle nor the coach of Rafael, I would want Federer to win all the matches. But at the end, I like how he plays, because he's very elegant but he's very effective too.”

But Toni says Nadal has figured out how to beat Federer.

“For us it was always more difficult to play against Djokovic,” Toni said.

“Because it's not about who of them is better. For us, when we play against Federer, we have a way to beat him. In my mind, before going on court, I know what we have to do.

“When we play against Djokovic, many times we didn't know exactly what we had to do. This is more difficult, for me. I prefer to play against Federer.”

with AAP