Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal’s Twenty-20 Slam tie; Novak Djokovic’s super hover at 17…going on 20

Written by Shahid Judge
| Mumbai |

October 12, 2020 9:07:12 pm

Rafael Nadal holds the trophy, proper, as he celebrates profitable the ultimate match of the French Open tennis event towards Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, left. (AP)

As the congratulatory messages began to pour in, and threatened to drown out one another, there was one which stood out. There was at all times going to be that one that will. That one by Roger Federer.

“I have always had the utmost respect for my friend Rafa as a person and as a champion,” Federer tweeted after Rafael Nadal secured his 13th French Open title.

“As my greatest rival over many years, I believe we have pushed each other to become better players. Therefore, it is a true honour 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.”

The message was uploaded on social media simply moments after Nadal struck his fourth ace of the match to safe a convincing 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 win towards Novak Djokovic within the Roland Garros remaining.

It was a becoming tribute to Nadal, as he entered the ’20-Grand Slam’ membership. And there was no individual extra apt to welcome him there than Federer, the one whose all-time males’s Grand Slam document Nadal has now equalled.

It was the image of a friendship, of respect, of a rivalry that began in 2004. And for the primary time in these previous 16 years, with 20 Grand Slams every to their title, they’re lastly equals.

“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,” Nadal stated.

“We have a really, excellent relationship. We respect one another so much. At the identical time ultimately, I feel he’s completely happy after I’m profitable and I’m completely happy when he’s doing the issues effectively.

“In some way, for me it 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, I just can say thanks to him.”

The starting

The first time they performed one another was within the third spherical of the Miami Masters in 2004. Federer was the World No 1, Nadal was ranked 34 and was but to win a Slam, however got here out with an upset 6-3, 6-Three win. A yr later, when Nadal – then 19 – gained his first French Open title, Federer was already a four-time Grand Slam champion. And Nadal has trailed the 39-year-old Swiss ever since, till Sunday.

Nadal, now 34, was at all times taking part in catch-up to the person 5 years his senior, however even then, at a time when Pete Sampras’ document of 14 Grand Slam titles appeared insurmountable, their rivalry is what captured the creativeness of the tennis world. And maybe, the sporting world basically.

“Both of us have a different way to play tennis (and have) a lot of good success with these two different styles. I feel that this rivalry goes not only in the tennis world. People from outside of our world talk about it and that’s good for our sport,” Nadal had stated in regards to the rivalry at the 2017 Australian Open.

Then there have been three

In an interview with Eurosport final yr, John McEnroe stated: “If Federer is so universally loved around the world, he owes it to Rafael Nadal.”

But whereas the rivalry flourished, a younger Serb by the title of Djokovic entered the combination and began to beat occasions that had until then seemingly been reserved for Federer and Nadal (Fedal, if you’ll). He pushed the duo to larger heights, and so they pushed him to turning into a 17-time Grand Slam champion and World No 1.

It is folly to disregard Djokovic, for all his achievements, enthralling abilities, and what he can nonetheless obtain. The debate for who would be the Greatest of All Time, the ‘GOAT’, nonetheless rages, however there’s a powerful suspicion that it will likely be the Serb who would be the one who finally ends up with essentially the most Grand Slam titles to his title.

He’s the youngest among the many Big 3, at 33. But his elders aren’t fairly carried out but.

Federer has taken a short hiatus to recuperate from a double knee surgical procedure and is predicted to return at the 2021 Australian Open. And everyone knows what occurred the final time he took a prolonged break to recuperate from surgical procedure.

He had been written off at the 2017 Australian Open, however gained it – beating Nadal in a historic remaining. Then he gained Wimbledon that yr with out dropping a set, and defended his crown in Melbourne a yr later.

Nadal simply gained his 13th French Open title and now has an astonishing 100-2 document at Roland Garros. And whilst he celebrated his 20th Grand Slam title, he issued a warning.

“I don’t think today about the 20th, equal Roger on this great number. For me, today is just a Roland Garros victory,” he stated on courtroom after profitable the title. “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 playing here is true inspiration.”

In different phrases, Nadal needs to win the French Open once more, and once more…

That three-way race to being the GOAT will proceed. But for now, as we bask on this Greatest Generation of All Time, we will simply savour the expertise of getting two 20-time Major winners.

After beating Nadal at the 2017 Australian Open, Federer had stated: “There are no draws in tennis, but I would have been happy to share this trophy with Rafa tonight.”

Now, for the primary time of their careers, the honours are even.

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