Lionel Messi has responded to Rafael Nadal after the tennis player backed the Argentine to win the 2023 Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award.
Nadal and Messi were among six male athletes announced as nominees, along with Kylian Mbappe, Max Verstappen, Armand Duplantis and Steph Curry.
Nadal’s 2022 season saw him win the Australian Open and French Open to move to 22 Grand Slam titles. He also finished the season as world No. 2.
Messi’s standout moment was leading Argentina to victory at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, scoring seven goals in the tournament, including two in the final.
Earlier on Tuesday, Nadal said 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…come on Lionel Messi you deserve it,” wrote Nadal on Instagram.
In response Messi wrote: “That such a great sportsman like you thinks of me like that leaves me speechless.
“Thank you so much Rafael Nadal, you too deserve everything for the way you compete every time you step on the court.
“You are a winner, everyone [the nominations] all deserve the Laureus Sport this year, that’s the truth!!!”
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 which was scheduled for March 5.
“I am very sad for not being able to come to Vegas and play in this amazing event with Carlos at the MGM Grand Garden Arena,” said Nadal.
“Unfortunately, the timing of my recovery doesn’t make it possible to be there ready to play.”
Indian Wells, which is the first ATP 1000 event of the season, starts on March 8.
Women’s world No. 1 Iga Swiatek was nominated for the 2023 Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year after a dominant season that saw her win two Grand Slam titles.
US Open winner Carlos Alcaraz and Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina have been nominated for the Breakthrough of the Year Award.
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