An “emotional” Rafael Nadal on Monday said he watched spellbound as Tiger Woods rolled back the clock to win a fifth Masters title and cap his comeback from back surgery. Spain’s world number two, a keen golfer himself, expressed nothing but admiration for Woods, who has fought through at least as many physical challenges as he has himself. “It was amazing,” Nadal said as he prepared for his Wednesday start at the Monte Carlo Masters, his first event in a month since withdrawing with knee issues at Indian Wells before a semi-final against Roger Federer.

“I’m a big fan of him. Like I’ve said hundreds of times, that he’s probably my favourite sportsman in the world since a long time ago.”

Nadal could not help but compare his own years of fitness problems to those of Woods, who has faced multiple back surgeries and other roadblocks when it looked like his career might be close to ending.