Nadal ‘honoured’ by Maracana kick-off

Rio de Janeiro, Feb 17: World No.1 tennis player Rafael Nadal revealed his delight at kicking-off Rio’s local football derby between Vasco da Gama and Flamengo at the Maracana Stadium here.

The 27-year-old Spaniard, in the city for this week’s inaugural Rio Open, was the guest of honour at the state league match, reports Xinhua.

“It was a very special experience. I’m a big fan of sports, of football, and this is one of the most important stadiums in the world. It has a lot of history and with the renovation, it looks very nice. It’s going to be a very special stadium for the World Cup. It was an honour to have the opportunity to do the match kick-off,” Nadal said Sunday.

Nadal will begin the ATP 500 tournament against compatriot Daniel Gimeno-Traver Tuesday. The event will be played on clay at the Jockey Club Brasileiro in Rio’s southern neighbourhood of Gavea.