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Spain's Almagro trades shots with young tennis players in New Taipei

TAIPEI--World No. 12 tennis ace Nicolas Almagro coached over 20 Taiwanese students Friday, saying he was impressed by their powerful strokes and love for the sport.

The Spaniard, who will play against world No. 2 Novak Djokovic in an exhibition game in New Taipei's Linkou Saturday, appeared in high spirits during the practice session at a Taipei school.

“Nice!” Almagro exclaimed several times during the event, while occasionally punishing his opponents with unexpected drop shots.

The teens from Xin Xing Junior High School were not intimidated, however. They chanted in support of one another throughout the 30-minute session regardless of their performance.

Tseng Chun-hsin, who will team up with another youngster on Saturday to take on the pairing of Djokovic and Almagro, said after playing with Almagro in Taipei that he was confident he could bring out his best during the exhibition at National Taiwan Sport University.

The only thing that could make him nervous, admitted the 11-year-old, was that “there might be many people watching me.”

The six-time winner of Taiwan's Four Pillars Championship, a biannual tournament for elementary school students, Tseng said he will need to dig deep and probably apply strategies he learned from watching Andy Murray, who beat Serbia's Djokovic to claim his first Grand Slam title at the just-concluded U.S. Open.

Besides demonstrating tennis skills, Almagro encouraged the teens to keep their passion for the sport and to enjoy each game as much as possible.

“I tried to be a better player every day,” the 27-year-old said when asked by a student about his secret to staying motivated.

Following the exhibition, Almagro will continue to compete in the Rakuten Open in Japan, while Djokovic will go to Beijing for the China Open.

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