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Dream come true: Manuela, 95, meets Rafa Nadal after grandson Carlos' Twitter campaign
11 May 2021 @ 09:42

MANUELA has always wanted to met her idol Rafael Nadal, and thanks to her grandson's campaigning, the 95-year-old has finally been able to chat to the tennis ace in person.

Nadal met his huge fan after she had watched him play in the Mutua Madrid Open and, although Manuela was unable to see the Mallorca-born star sing victory against his rival Alexander Zverev, talking to him face to face more than made up for not witnessing her hero play to success.

Carlos Carrizosa, tweeting Rafa on the day of the match, said his grandmother had recently been diagnosed with age-related dementia and, whilst her Alzheimer's is in the early stages, she had wanted to see the world number three play live 'before she forgot what he and tennis meant to her'.

Nadal and the Mutua Madrid Open organising team saw the message and decided to make Manuela's dream come true.

They arranged for her to sit in a VIP box right at the foot of the court and just metres from where Rafa was playing – close enough for him to hear her shouts of encouragement and her vigorous applause and cheers whenever he earned a point or made a successful move.

“It was even more exciting than being given a leg of Serrano ham,” Manuela told TV reporters just before the match – having no idea that something more exciting still was in store for her.

“I've always liked watching him. Until the match finishes, I never go to bed. I keep myself going so I don't sleep. It's like he was my own son – it'd be the best thing in my life if I had a moment of him.”

Rafa's most energetic applause for every point earned came from the VIP box, where his biggest fan was sitting (photo: @MutuaMadridOpen on Twitter)

Just after the match, once Nadal had given the usual commentary to the media and changed his clothing, he went to meet Manuela – and television reporters said her 'eyes were already lit up' as she watched the game, and brightened up even more when she had her hero standing in front of her.

Carlos got the whole meeting on photo and video, as did the organisers, who tweeted a picture of the pair in conversation.

Even if, over the coming months or years, Manuela does not remember the occasion, she will be able to see the snapshots and footage and will know that it did, in fact, happen.



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