"It's living in a highlight reel": From mini Rafael Nadal moniker to playing him, Zizou Bergs is 'living the dream' despite loss

Thursday, 09 May 2024 at 18:22
Zizou Bergs, the current World No.108 put up a real fight losing 6-4, 3-6, 4-6 in the first round of the 2024 Rome Open against the legendary Rafael Nadal. But unlike others who perhaps would be down about losing after being a set up, it is a dream to even be there.
Bergs who said his big dream is to reach the top 100 said that growing up, he would call himself mini Rafael Nadal and would model himself on the Spanish great so it befuddled him being drawn against the legend in his final stand at the Rome Open.
"It's definitely living the dream. It's living in a highlight reel. Already I'm grateful to have this tennis life with these ups and downs. To have these ups and downs is amazing, you see Rafael Nadal on TV always when you're young. You call yourself mini Rafael Nadal. You wear the same clothes so I don't have to tell you how special it is to play him at this stage," said Bergs to Tennis Channel.
"It's a hard challenge to go out there and put aside that it's Rafael Nadal, the legend, your young idol and see him as your opponent. When I saw this draw I was like wow it's going to happen. I put down my phone, called my psychologist and team and go we have to prepare as good as possible. Straight away, we made a plan."
"You really start to believe coming with a plan, you start to believe I can beat him today. That's something huge today that you can go out and say I'm ready to beat him despite him being the legend."
But winning on the Challenger Tour vs playing main draw tennis is different and Bergs said that he has surprised himself as a player who usually loves the big stage to show really grit and determination to plug away at these events.
"It's definitely a change. When I'm at those Challengers the last weeks, I've always been a little bit the favourite. I know that I'm the better player. When I'm on, I will dictate. It will depend on me. When you're coming here, from second round qualifiers I'm playing Shang who is a very talented player. You know it's going to be a tough battle. I'm a player that really likes the big stages, I think I'm more made for that tour than the Challenger Tour. What I believe, the big tour is not going to be easy but I will enjoy it more because of the crowd."

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