The Spaniard was given high praise from a pair of peers on Wednesday in New York

Rafael Nadal: king of clay, 18-time major champion and… best fighter ever?

That’s what Matteo Berrettini and Diego Schwartzman are saying after Day 10 at the US Open. The Italian, who will face Nadal in Friday’s semifinals in New York, had big praise for Nadal when he was asked by a reporter after his five-set victory over Gael Monfils on Wednesday in New York.

“I think he's the greatest fighter ever in this sport,” Berrettini said. “It's unbelievable he's doing. I admire him, like, the way he's on the court, you know. Like his attitude is something that it's — I think it's close to the perfection. He's always, like, 5-0, 40-Love down, he's always there. It's something that's not that easy to do. So bravo.”

On Wednesday Nadal, true to form, fought through cramping to get past Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman in straight sets to book his eighth semifinal at the US Open. Schwartzman says that he’s never seen anything like the Spaniard. He was asked if he agreed with Berrettini—is Nadal the best fighter in history?

“[He is] like a lion in the middle, you know, in the jungle,” Schwartzman said. “He's a fighter. He knows how to play the important moments every single time. I played eight times, and every important moment he played better than me.”

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Nadal was asked to respond, and he told reporters that there’s nothing special about what he does. There are many good fighters out there, Nadal told them.

“I don't like to talk much about myself, because it's not a beautiful thing,” Nadal said. “No, I think I had stable character during all my life, all my career. That helps to be normally in stable — I mean, mentally focused, mentally relaxed and mentally always ready to respect every opponent, to play every point, to play every game, to play every set and every match until the end, no?

“So that's one of the keys of the success. But honestly, is not everything. I think my success is not only because of the spirit of fight. There is lot of things after this. But of course I have the stories say that I have been, yeah, a good fighter on court with good character, positive character, and I am not the only one. There is a lot of ones that fight a lot.”