When Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer met for the first time at the 2004 ATP 1000 Masters tournament in Miami no one could have predicted that the pair would go on to become two of the world's greatest tennis players. The Rafa-Rog rivalry has been an integral part of tennis for the last 16 years but off the court, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal seem to have become close friends. On the occasion of Rafa's historic win at the French Open, Roger Federer took to Twitter to congratulate him on joining the very exclusive 20 Grand Slam titles club.
When Federer won his 20th Grand Slam title at the 2018 Australian Open, it seemed to be an unattainable number. Rafa was still lagging behind with 16 titles and Djokovic barely seemed a threat. Yet, in the years since, Roger Federer has failed to win a single title. This gave Nadal the chance to creep up on the Swiss maestro's record.
With two consecutive wins at Roland Garros in 2018 and 2019 and a US Open win in 2019, Rafa has been lying in wait for a year now. As with most of Rafa's career, the French Open 2020 is what gave him this shot at glory.
Coming into the tournament on the back of a long break and a loss at the ATP 1000 Masters event in Rome, Rafa was a struggling favourite. However, at Philippe-Chatrier, the King of Clay once again proved undefeatable as he reached the final without dropping a single set. Opposite him was the World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, one of the two men to have defeated Rafa at the French Open. On the line for both was a place in history.
In the end, it was Rafa who bulldozed past Djokovic to win his 13th French Open title, 100th match win at the French Open, and a record-equalling 20th Grand Slam title.
Long-time rival Roger Federer had only praise for Rafa as he welcomed him into this esteemed club. Taking to social media, Federer wrote that he had always had the utmost respect for Rafa and that he felt they had made each other better players. He also congratulated Rafa's team for the achievement.
Federer's message for Rafa has earned him great praise from fans. Here's what netizens had to say about the iconic duo:
no time for losers— 𝐢𝐫𝐞𝐦 (@Vysenera) October 11, 2020
cuz we are the champions pic.twitter.com/CJ8VY2u0Hp
Many of your fans worry about your records being broken, yet this is how you think about your biggest rival. Over the years we have learned to appreciate him, especially thanks to @LaverCup and MFA. Hope you guys play doubles again soon but most of all that you get healthy 🙂— Doris (@DorisLaRubia) October 11, 2020
ROGER I JUST STOPPED CRYING 😭😭😭😭😭😭 pic.twitter.com/InSX4SRTXw— soph (@grigorfanpage) October 11, 2020
The GOAT welcoming another GOAT to the 20 GS Club. True Class for both gentlemen!— Hammer of God 🔨 (@DaHaMM3RofGOD) October 11, 2020
The Nadal vs Federer head to head stands at 24-16 in favour of the Spaniard. The pair last met at the semi-finals of the Wimbledon Championships in 2019. Federer won that encounter but went on to lose the final to Novak Djokovic. Federer will next be seen in action at the Australian Open in 2021 after taking the year off to recuperate from knee surgery.
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