World number one Rafael Nadal has paid tribute to former NBA star Kobe Bryant at the Australian Open 2020. The 19-time Grand Slam winner secured his spot in the quarterfinals at the first Grand Slam of the year after beating home favourite Nick Kyrgios with the score of 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 and 7-6 in Melbourne on Monday.
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Following the match, Nadal was asked by the broadcaster to express his views about Bryant who lost his life along with his daughter and three others in a tragic helicopter crash in California on Sunday.
Nadal responded to the question by saying: “Well what can I say. I just woke up with this terrible news He was one of the greatest sportsmen in history and he deserves a huge round of applause. I have met him but never managed to spend time together. However, I have a friend who has played alongside him and he told me that his [Bryant]’s passion for the game was special. He was the great of the game. He always wanted more. He was a true inspiration. Kobe Bryant will be in hearts and our mind forever.”
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Bryant is one of the most successful players in the history of NBA after having won five titles with the LA Lakers and was also named the NBA Most Valuable Player back in 2008.