Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are not just rivals for GOAT status in men’s tennis.
They are close friends, too.
And so when Nadal won his 13th French Open crown and record-tying 20th Grand Slam title on Sunday over Novak Djokovic, Federer was at the head of the line to congratulate his friend and rival on tying him atop the all-time men’s list.
“I hope 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us,” Federer said in part on social media. “Well done, Rafa. You deserve it.”
Told of Federer’s congratulatory comments, Nadal was equally generous.
“Thanks to Roger for the words, no?” Nadal said. “I think, as everybody know, we have a very, very good relationship. 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.
“In some ways for me 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, just can say thanks to him.”
After sitting out the second half of 2020 due to knee surgery, Federer, 39, is expected to return at the Australian Open in January where he will seek his 21st major title.
“We love Roger, but if he adds to the 20, that would be absolutely amazing,” John McEnroe said on NBC.
To put Nadal’s accomplishment in perspective, his 13 French Open titles are more than the TOTAL number of majors for several tennis greats:
Bjorn Borg – 11
Andre Agassi – 8
Jimmy Connors – 8
Ivan Lendl – 8
John McEnroe – 7
Mats Wilander – 7
Boris Becker – 6
Stefan Edberg – 6
Federer was among many tennis greats and celebrities to congratulate Nadal on his historic achievement. Rod Laver, the only man to win the calendar Grand Slam twice, chimed in with words of praise.