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Roger Federer & Rafael Nadal better players at 34 than they were at 20, says Richard Gasquet

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer
Rudra Biswas

Tennis’ golden era was ushered in 15 years ago, when a 19-year-old Rafael Nadal established the sport's most iconic rivalry with then-World No. 1 Roger Federer. Since then, the duo have played each other 38 more times, having been part of some epic Slam finals at Wimbledon, Australian Open and Roland Garros.

It is no secret that the 'Fedal' rivalry has helped revolutionize modern tennis and boost viewership numbers across the board. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal soon found company in fellow Big 3 rival Novak Djokovic at the apex of the sport; the trio have totally monopolized the Grand Slams, winning 57 of the last 69 Major events.

In that context, Richard Gasquet and Benoit Paire spoke in detail about the commitment shown by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to remain at the top. During a video chat hosted by Gael Monfils on the streaming platform Twitch, the French players lauded the Big 3's dedication to compete at the highest possible level even as they got older.

Former World No. 7 Richard Gasquet, whose best years came at a time when both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were in their prime, is in awe of their ability to keep improving themselves even after crossing 30.

"What impresses me the most with the best players is that they manage to keep their motivation, every tournament and every week," Gasquet said.

The Frenchman then went on to say that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal play even better now than they did at the beginning of their careers. Gasquet explained how the two have retained their edge over the rest of the tour by changing their game over the years.

"How gifted they are but that they are, (they are) better at tennis at 33, 34 years of age than they were at 20. When you compare 2005 Rafael Nadal with his current self at Roland Garros, it feels like a different player. He plays twice as fast now and strikes the ball earlier," Gasquet said.

We keep saying Roger Federer has a less physical game, but he plays with the same effort: Richard Gasquet

Roger Federer reached the Australian Open semifinals this year at the age of 38
Roger Federer reached the Australian Open semifinals this year at the age of 38

Richard Gasquet went on to assert that he is even more impressed by Roger Federer's longevity.

The Swiss Maestro has won 20 Major titles and has been a contender to reach the later stages of big events for 18 years now. Due to long list of historic accomplishments, the 39-year-old Federer is considered by many sports analysts to be possibly the greatest tennis player of all time.

"Same with Roger Federer, you couldn't really say that his backhand was great when he was younger, but now he just doesn't miss with it. We keep saying he has a less physical game but he plays the same sport, with the same effort, he just doesn't show it," Gasquet said.

Benoit Paire echoed Gasquet's sentiment in his praise for Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, as he explained how the trio have managed to stay motivated for every tournament they play.

"Obviously they were all very gifted from the start. But what is really impressive is how they manage to stay motivated, every week and for every tournament. They rarely lose first rounds or throw away matches. Despite having won 10, 20 GS each, their motivation remains intact," Paire said.
"Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have been winning every tourney for years but they still want it. They're great champions in every way, Djokovic as well with his serve and other things. They kept on improving," Paire added.

Edited by Musab Abid

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