Roger Federer Praises Rafael Nadal on 2020 French Open Win: 'You Deserve It'

Jenna CiccotelliContributor IIIOctober 11, 2020

Roger Federer, right, and Rafael Nadal embrace after the final point of their exhibition tennis match held at the Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday Feb. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)
Halden Krog/Associated Press

After Rafael Nadal earned his record-tying 20th Grand Slam title with a French Open win over Novak Djokovic on Sunday, his fellow record holder Roger Federer took to Twitter to congratulate him.

"I have always had the utmost respect for my friend Rafa as a person and as a champion," wrote Federer, who also holds 20 Grand Slam victories. "As my greatest rival over many years, I believe we have pushed each other to become better players." 

Federer also noted Nadal's 13 victories at Roland Garros before offering congratulations to his team. 

"I hope 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us," he wrote. "Well done, Rafa. You deserve it." 

Nadal's 20th victory was a meeting of two of the biggest stars in the sport. Nadal, ranked No. 2 in the world, fell to the top-ranked Djokovic when the pair met in the finals of the 2019 Australian Open, their last finals meeting, before defeating him in straight sets (6-0, 6-2, 7-5) Sunday to deny the Serbian his 18th Grand Slam victory. 

At 34, Nadal became the oldest winner of the French Open since 1972 and has been championing the sport since 2005, when he earned his first win at Roland Garros. He holds the longest span of Grand Slam titles, with 15 years between his first win and most recent, per USA Today's Jimmy Hascup

Federer's season ended early when he had knee surgery earlier this year, but the 39-year-old plans to return in 2021. 

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However, Nadal is not concerned with becoming the greatest player of all time. Back in May, he told La Voz de Galicia, a Spanish newspaper, that he "doesn't obsess" over Federer's record, or the possibility of Djokovic overtaking him (h/t the New York Times).

"One has to be satisfied with what one does. And this is what I have done throughout my career, and I am very satisfied for that. Even if Federer or Djokovic finishes with more Grand Slams than me, it won't affect my happiness 10 years from now."