20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal hit shots with 97-year-old Ukrainian Leonid Stanislavskyi, a Guinness World Record holder as the world’s oldest tennis player.
A friendly game, which took place at the end of October at Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor, Spain, was a dream come true for Stanislavskyi who has wanted to take on the world number four.
Video and photographs shared on social media by Rafa Nadal Academy showed Stanislavskyi moving at his own pace trying to return every shot by Nadal.
Stanislavskyi came to Spain to participate in the 2021 Super-Seniors World Championship.
For the first time, the International Tennis Federation has introduced a 90-and-over age group in the 2021 tournament after Stanislavskyi sent a written request to the federation asking for the new category to be added.
For Stanislavskyi, who has been playing amateur tennis for over half a century, it is next to impossible to find a worthy adversary in his age group.
That has not stopped him from participating in the world and European championships for seniors and outplaying younger competitors.
Stanislavskyi was 30 when his colleague introduced him to tennis. Since then, he has trained three times a week in his hometown of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine.
“It is an elegant sport. It is good physical exercise, a beautiful game. And there is one more thing about tennis – you can play tennis no matter what age you are,” he told Reuters in July.
Stanislavskyi said the secret to his longevity was a mixture of good genes and regular sport.
He starts each morning with gymnastics and a series of push-ups and pull-ups. Besides tennis, Stanislavskyi is a passionate fan of swimming and skiing and dreams of taking a parachute jump.
He says his ultimate goal is to live to 100 years old or more and stay active.