Tennis fans have rediscovered a stunning photo of a 20-year-old Rafael Nadal training at the US Open with an even younger Naomi Osaka watching on in the background as an eager fan.
Nadal and Osaka have gone on to become two of the biggest names in the sport, but fans have noticed a stunning detail in an old photo of Nadal training on Arthur Ashe Stadium back in 2006.
The 20-year-old, still sporting his longer pants, was practicing on a run that saw him reach the quarter-final.
And in the background an eight-year-old Osaka can be seen in the front row watching keenly as Nadal took to practice.
She is seen with her sister Mari, who is a retired tennis player.
Little did Osaka know she would go on to win two US Open titles in 2018 and 2020.
Since that photo, Nadal himself has gone on to win four US Open titles and an incredible 22 grand slams.
The tennis world was quick to acknowledge the throwback photo showing one future tennis great watching another forge an unprecedented career.
A young Naomi Osaka watching Rafael Nadal practice during the US Open (2006) pic.twitter.com/2XEeqTeCTt
— miaミア (@miathermopol1s) July 15, 2022
omg this is the best photo ever
This rare picture of a 8y/o Naomi Osaka watching Rafael Nadal training during 2006 USO speaks volume. She understudied one of the best from a very young age. https://t.co/HEnIxk7THu
In the past, Osaka has revealed she has taken inspiration from Nadal and admits she still watches footage of him to improve her own game.
The 24-year-old said she had taken confidence from Nadal’s comeback to the tour in 2022 ahead of her own clay-court season.
Osaka admitted she still watches footage of Nadal in order to make adjustments on her least favourite surface.
“Watching Nadal, Iga does it too, which I think is really cool, just like knowing when to hit a forehand instead of a backhand and knowing when to run around,” Osaka said in a post-match press conference.
“I think a lot of really good clay court players do that, so I’m trying to learn how to do that as well.”
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Both Osaka and Nadal are due to compete at the Canadian Open next month to start their hard-court campaigns.
Nadal was forced to withdraw from his Wimbledon semi-final clash with Nick Kyrgios after sustaining another abdominal injury during his epic five-set match against Taylor Fritz.
The Spaniard was reported to have sustained a seven millimetre tear, which was going to sideline him for a number of weeks.
While Nadal recently took a holiday to rest up from his grass court campaign, the 22-time grand slam champ was filmed back on the court ahead of his expected return.
Osaka chose to skip Wimbledon due to an injury, which gave her an opportunity to recover in time for a US Open push.