Bengaluru: Former South African captain AB de Villiers has described India skipper Virat Kohli as Roger Federer of cricket whereas Australia’s Steve Smith as Rafael Nadal.

De Villiers, who is a teammate of Kohli at the IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), called the Delhi right-hander as “natural ball-striker”.

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“It’s a difficult one, but Virat is definitely the more natural ball-striker, there’s no doubt about that,” De Villiers said during his Instagram chat with former Zimbabwe cricketer-turned-commentator Pommie Mbangwa on Sports Hurricane.

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De Villiers added, “In tennis terms, I’d say he is more like a (Roger) Federer whereas Smith is like a (Rafael) Nadal. Smith is mentally very strong and figures out a way of scoring runs - he doesn't look natural, but he ends up writing records and doing amazing things at the crease.

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“I think mentally, Smith is one of the best I have ever seen. Virat has also scored runs all over the world and won games under pressure.”

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During the Australian Open in 2019, Kohli and his wife Anushka Sharma had met Swiss great Federer in Melbourne. At the time, India was touring Australia for Test and limited-overs series. Earlier, Kohli had met Federer in 2015.

Speaking about his meeting with Federer in 2019, Kohli had told bcci.tv, “Well amazing! I have met him a couple of times before as well and the fact he remembered was like wow. I mean he told me that he met me in Sydney a few years back when he played an exhibition game and I was like 'wow he remembers me' and I can't explain that feeling to you, you know. I have seen him play since I was a child and he is a great, great man, not just a great tennis player but a great human being as well.”

He added, “He kept asking questions and I was like 'he is asking me questions' and I could speak to him about mindset, how he prepares, what he thinks about his sport. It was just a beautiful, beautiful time.”

Swiss great Federer, 38, has won a world record 20 Grand Slam titles while the 33-year-old Spanish ‘king of clay’ Nadal has clinched 19 Grand Slam trophies. Nadal is currently ranked No. 2 in the world while Federer is No. 4.