I hope 20 is just another step: Roger Federer hails Rafael Nadal’s French Open victory

Rafael Nadal is now even with RogerFederer for the first time since each man had zero Slams to his name in 2003.

After Rafael Nadal beat world number one Novak Djokovic in the French Open final to claim a record-equalling 20th Grand Slam title on Sunday, tennis great Roger Federer welcomed the Spaniard into the 20 grand slam club.

Nadal equaled long-time rival Federer for the most major singles tennis championships won by a man and added to his own record at Roland Garros with No. 13 on the red clay. It’s the fourth time he’s won his favorite tournament without ceding a set.

“The love story that I have with this city, and with this court, is unforgettable,” Nadal said.

He deflected a question during the on-court, post-match interview about catching Federer, saying his focus remained squarely on the French Open.

“(To) win here means everything to me, no? It’s not the moment, honestly … (to) think today about the 20th,” Nadal said. “Roland Garros means everything to me. I spent, here, the most important moments — or most of the most important moments — in my tennis career, no doubt about that.”

However, Federer responded to Nadal’s sensational victory and wrote a special message for him on Twitter.

“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. Therefore it is a true honor for me to congratulate him on his 20th Grand Slam victory,” he wrote.

“It is especially amazing that he has now won Roland Garros an icncredible 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.”

Nadal is now even with Federer for the first time since each man had zero Slams to his name in 2003.

(With AP inputs)

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