To share the record with Federer is beautiful: Nadal

Having caught up to Roger Federer's tally of 20 majors, Rafael Nadal is happy to share the record with his long-time rival and friend

Roger Federer (left) and Rafael Nadal

For about 15 years, since he won his first major at the 2005 French Open, Rafael Nadal has been chasing down Roger Federer. Every time the Swiss has raised the bar, Nadal has risen to the challenge.

On Sunday, in Paris (where else), Nadal finally drew level with his long-time rival and friend Federer. Not surprisingly, the Swiss was one of the first players to congratulate Nadal on equaling his record for the most number of Slams in men’s tennis: 20.

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“We keep playing. I don’t know what can happen in the future,” said Nadal after defeating World No 1 Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in the final to win his 13th French Open title.

“I am just excited and of course is something that means a lot to me.

“At the same time to share this record between us, that we had an amazing rivalry for such a long time, is something in some way beautiful I really believe.”

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The Swiss had won four Grand Slam titles before Nadal won his first and was the reigning king of men’s tennis when the fresh-faced Rafa broke through.

The 39-year-old Federer, who decided to skip the French Open this year as he is still recuperating from two knee surgeries lauded Nadal’s dominance on clay as ‘one of the greatest achievements,’ in tennis.

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“It is especially amazing that he has now won Roland Garros an incredible 13 times, which is one of the greatest achievements in sport,” the Swiss tweeted.

“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.”

Unlike a lot of rivalries in men’s tennis, Nadal and Federer’s (possibly the most adored by the rest of the tennis world) has been remarkable because of their grace and mutual respect. They have handed each other some of the most physically and emotionally bruising defeats, but Federer and Nadal have remained rivals in arms.

“Thanks to Roger for the words,” Nadal said in reply to the Swiss’ message.

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“I think, as everybody knows, we have a very, very good relationship. We respect each other a lot. At the same time in some way, I think he’s happy when I’m winning and I’m happy when he’s doing the things well.

“In some way for me means a lot the positive relationship that we have together because we have been going through a great rivalry for a very, very long time. Yeah, just can say thanks to him.”