Maria Sharapova reveals pep talk before asking Rafa Nadal to practice

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Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal traded groundstrokes at the Foro Italico in Rome. (@MariaSharapova)

An impromptu practice session between Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal in Rome got a lot of attention this week, but the Russian revealed she almost didn't make the request.

Sharapova says she had to be talked into asking the all-time great to hit on his favorite surface.

“Well, I saw he was practicing on the court right before me,” Sharapova told press in Rome. “And I said to my team, I was like, wouldn't it be amazing if I just came up to Rafa and said, ‘Would you hit a couple balls with me?’ And they're like, 'Yeah, what's wrong with that?'

"There's a lot of things wrong with just coming up to Rafa. They're like, 'No, you should.' I was like, 'Really? You think I should?' And so I did.

"And he was, like, 'Yeah.' He probably thought I was really weird. I think he still thinks I'm really weird.”

Sharapova also joked that she had to settle her nerves before going up to Nadal.

“Let's not get crazy. It's not like you're asking him to go on a date,” Sharapova said with a laugh. “You're just asking him to hit a couple of balls with you. I was like, listen, you gotta hit a couple balls with Rafa on clay.

"I was so nervous. I was really, really tight."

ATP Rome (5/13 - 5/20)

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