Rafa Nadal and Gabriela Sabatini have delighted the tennis world having teamed-up in a historic moment for fanatics in a mixed doubles exhibition event.
Just before the birth of his first child, Nadal confirmed he would take part in an exhibition tour in South America with World No.3 Ruud.
'WHAT A MOMENT': Novak Djokovic act sends tennis fans into frenzy
The news delighted tennis fans in South America that never had the opportunity to watch their idol.
And in a unique move, 80s and 90s tennis icon Sabatini took to social media to extend Nadal an enticing offer to pair up while on the tour.
Nadal accepted and the duo took on Ruud and Gisela Dulo in an exhibition event.
The 52-year-old former tennis player received a huge applause after stepping back on court.
And much to the delight of the adoring fans, Sabatini and Nadal proved victorious 6-4 in an entertaining showdown.
Tennis fans were quick to laud the appearance of Nadal and Sabatini in a rare occasion for fanatics.
Rafa Sabatini won💕😌
good night💫 pic.twitter.com/DAIbckpy8F
— 𝓝𝓪𝓭𝓪➁➁𝓲𝓬𝓪¹⁴ 🇺🇦 (@Nadallica86) November 24, 2022
Rafa won vs Casper Ruud and also won doubles with Sabatini. Very emotional and enjoyable event for all of them and a pleasure to watch them having so much fun; besides some amazing points 😃💪
— Silvia L Elias (@silvialelias) November 24, 2022
rafa - sabatini doubles aaaaaah i cant stop smiling pic.twitter.com/AnOj5B4M8D
— 🧑🌾🛸 (@butterflierer) November 23, 2022
— Valentina (@valen_albesi) November 24, 2022
Lol ofc even the doubles set is a long one but they are still having fun😄 pic.twitter.com/9qceDqB6Bp
— 𝓝𝓪𝓭𝓪➁➁𝓲𝓬𝓪¹⁴ 🇺🇦 (@Nadallica86) November 23, 2022
Look at them lol. pic.twitter.com/3pS2rPXgfA
— Del🇪🇺 mastodon.world/@Stroppa_Del (@Stroppa_Del) November 23, 2022
Sabatini was one of the biggest tennis stars in the late 80s and early 90s.
A fierce rival to icon Steffi Graf, Sabatini became the youngest ever semi-finalist at Roland Garros at just 14 years old.
She went on to finally defeat Graf in the 1990 US Open final to claim her only singles grand slam title, after also winning the Wimbledon doubles title in 1988.
Earlier, Nadal and Ruud played a three-set exhibition match.
Having played in the group stage at the ATP Finals, which Nadal won - took to the court again in front of a raucous and excited crowd.
The duo provided fans were moments of brilliance with Nadal leaving the crowd gasping after a brutal jumping forehand winner.
Nadal eventually prevailed 7-6, 6-2.
Casper Ruud finishes of 2022 in fantastic style
Nadal was eliminated in the group stages of the ATP Finals after struggling to find form in his return to competition.
Despite speculation over his retirement, Nadal told fans he would continue for as long as possible after a defiant message in Turin.
Ruud reached the final, but fell short against Novak Djokovic.
The Norwegian finished off a stunning year, which saw him reach both the Roland Garros and US Open finals.
Ruud also reached a career-high ranking and currently sits at World No.3.
The duo will soon finish their tour and have time off before preparing for the Australian Open.
Djokovic will be allowed to compete for a ninth title at Melbourne Park, a decision that was welcomed by Nadal - though it was met with a mixed reaction in Australia.
"Tennis is better when all the best players are on the court. Even if it was a big mess last year, not good for our sport, it's the past," Nadal said.
"Novak able to play again is the best news possible. Happy for him, the tournament, the fans."
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