Roger Federer sent a heartwarming message to his 'greatest rival' Rafael Nadal after the Spaniard became only the 2nd man to win 20 Grand Slam singles titles on Sunday. Federer said he hopes that the number 20 is just another milestone in their remarkable journey in the sport.
Roger Federer's message came after Rafael Nadal won his 13th French Open title, beating familiar foe Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in a final that saw lot of one-way traffic. Nadal extended his unbeaten record at Roland Garros finals and his 100th win at the clay-court major also helped him become only the 5th singles player to join the 20 Grand-Slam club.
Roger Federer won his 20th Grand Slam crown when he defended his Australian Open title in 2018. At that time, Nadal had only 16 Grand Slam crowns but with 3 more French Open titles and a US Open title in 2019, Nadal has managed to catch up.
"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.
"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."October 11, 2020
How Nadal and Djokovic reacted to the French Open final
Nadal was in imperious form as he bageled Novak Djokovic in the first set of their 2 hours and 41-minute final. There was no coming back from there despite a valiant effort from the Serb in the 3rd set as Nadal wrapped it up in 3 sets with one of his most dominant performances on the red dirt.
When asked what he thought about equalling Federer's record, Nadal said it's not the time to reflect on the milestone but celebrate his Roland Garros triumph.
"Winning here means everything to me. It’s not the moment, honestly, for me, I don’t think today about the 20th, equalling Roger on this great number. For me, today is just a Roland Garros victory. Roland Garros means everything to me. I spent here most of the important moments in my tennis career, no doubt about that... for me, just play her is true inspiration. The love story I have with this city and with this court is unforgettable," Nadal said.
Djokovic missed out on an opportunity to become only the first man in Open Era to complete a double Career Slam. However, the World No. 1 was gracious in defeat.
"I want to say a huge congratulations to Rafa, your team and your family. What you are doing on this court is unbelievable and not just on this court. Today you showed why you are king of the clay. I have experienced it before," Djokovic said.