Rafael Nadal has backed World Cup champion Lionel Messi to receive the Laureus Sportsman of the Year award instead of him.
Rafael Nadal amassed a record-breaking haul of 22 Grand Slam titles; these were courtesy of victories at the Australian Open and the French Open in 2022. Novak Djokovic matched Nadal’s feat in Australia at the beginning of 2023. Yet, the Spaniard continues to believe that Messi, who assisted Argentina win their third world championship after defeating France in the World Cup final, deserves to take home the renowned Laureus Sportsman of the Year title.
Nadal thinks Messi’s World Cup heroics should see him win the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award.
“An honour to be nominated again to the Laureus Sportsman of the Year…but…this year…vamos @leomessi te lo mereces tu [Come on Lionel Messi you deserve it],” wrote Nadal on Instagram.
Nadal has previously spoken about how happy he was to see Messi win the World Cup.
“That someone so great reaches the culmination with a title that was missing, of this calibre, with all that it means for Argentina, it seemed fair to me, I enjoyed it and I was moved,” he told AS in December.
“Without supporting Argentina, when Messi scored the third goal, tears came to my eyes, because of the emotion of seeing someone so great achieve what they were missing and someone who had suffered so much to achieve it.”
Nadal is currently recovering from injury and is a doubt to play Indian Wells or the Miami Open next month.
He has pulled out of a planned exhibition contest against Carlos Alcaraz in Las Vegas scheduled for March 5.