After Rafael Nadal defeated world number one Novak Djokovic in the French Open final on Sunday, tennis great Roger Federer welcomed the Spaniard into the 20 grand slam club.
Nadal equaled long-time rival Federer for the most major singles tennis championships won by a man and simultaneously added to his own record at Roland Garros with number 13 on the red clay. Nadal won the French Open for the fourth time without ceding a set.
“The love story that I have with this city, and with this court, is unforgettable,” he said after a terrific performance.
He deflected a question during the on-court, post-match interview about catching Federer, saying his focus remained squarely on the French Open.
“(To) win here means everything to me, no? It’s not the moment, honestly … (to) think today about the 20th,” Nadal said. “Roland Garros means everything to me. I spent, here, the most important moments — or most of the most important moments — in my tennis career, no doubt about that.”
However, Federer did respond to Nadal’s sensational victory and shared a special message for him on Twitter.
“I have always had the utmost respect for my friend Rafa as a person and as a champion. As my greatest rival over many years, I believe we have pushed each other to become better players. Therefore it is a true honor for me to congratulate him on his 20th Grand Slam victory,” he wrote.
“It is especially amazing that he has now won Roland Garros an incredible 13 times, which is one of the greatest achievements in sport. I also congratulate his team, because nobody can do this alone. I hope 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us. Well done, Rafa. You deserve it.”
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) October 11, 2020
Nadal is now even with Federer for the first time since each man had zero Slams to his name in 2003.
Nadal’s opponent Djokovic spoke to reporters after the match and said, “I don’t have much to say but that I was completely outplayed by Rafa, by the better player on the court.”
“He was not missing at all and getting every ball back, just playing tactically great. I felt well throughout the entire tournament. I thought I was in a great form,” Djokovic was quoted as saying by Reuters.
“Certainly, I could have played better, especially in the first two sets. But he did surprise me with the way he was playing, the quality of tennis he was producing,” Djokovic added.
“He’s phenomenal. He played a perfect match, especially in the first two sets,” he concluded.
(With AP inputs)
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