Rafael Nadal battling Roger Federer on the court is easily one of the most enthralling sights in tennis. But what's even more awe-inspiring than their tennis is the camaraderie that they share off the court.
What started as a fierce rivalry between the legendary due in the mid-2000s has gradually turned into a very close and heartfelt friendship. Be it at the Laver Cup or in their Instagram video-chats, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer's healthy relationship has always been given their fans a lot of joy.
When Rafael Nadal equaled Roger Federer’s Grand Slam tally record with his 13th French Open title on Sunday, there were a lot of questions about what the feat meant for their respective careers. In his post-match press conference, Rafael Nadal gave his thoughts on Roger Federer’s congratulatory message, and went on to talk about their relationship over the years.
As everybody knows, Roger Federer and I have a very good relationship: Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer posted a congratulatory tweet soon after Rafael Nadal's win, speaking of the respect he has for his friend and rival. Federer even recalled how the two have both pushed each other over the years to become better players.
“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,” Federer's post read.
Roger Federer went on to add that he was 'honored' to be able to congratulate Rafael Nadal for tying his record. Federer also expressed his awe at Nadal's feat of winning an unprecedented 13th title at Roland Garros.
“Therefore it is a true honor for me to congratulate him on his 20th Grand Slam victory,” Federer added. “It is especially amazing that he has now won Roland Garros an incredible 13 times, which is one of the greatest achievements in sport.”
Rafael Nadal was asked what he thought about Federer’s words, to which the Spaniard responded in his typically humble fashion. The 34-year-old acknowledged that he has a ‘very, very good relationship’ with the Swiss, and that both of them were always happy when the other did well.
“Thanks to Roger for the words, no? I think, as everybody knows, we have a very, very good relationship," Nadal remarked. "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.”
I believe our rivalry is something beautiful: Rafael Nadal
The trio of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic have been locked in the 'GOAT' race for a while now, with each trying to win as many Slams as possible. Nadal now has a good chance of going past Federer on the leaderboard, given that he will likely play a lot longer than the Swiss.
But Nadal is not preoccupied with overtaking Federer, and instead is focusing on living in the moment and winning titles for himself.
"You can't be always unhappy about your neighbor has a bigger house, boat or a better phone," Nadal said. "We will see when we end our career. I believe our rivalry is something beautiful."
At the same time, Nadal did not hide his desire to end up with the highest number of Grand Slam titles. But for now, the Mallorcan asserted that he was happy to share this record with his good friend Roger Federer.
“I never hide that I would love to finish my career being the player with more Grand Slams, no doubt about that," Nadal continued. "The records, of course I care. For me, it means a lot to share this number with Roger."Published 12 Oct 2020, 02:30 IST