A former tennis professional has given her insight into the relationship between tennis legends Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. They are two of the best men’s players of all time and have come up against one another in major tournaments on many occasions, but they have never allowed their competitiveness to get in the way of the friendship they share.
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Federer and Nadal share 41 Grand Slam titles between them, with the latest coming last month as the latter made history at the Australian Open.
The Spaniard was two sets behind to Daniil Medvedev in the trophy-decider, but found the strength to force a fifth set and used the momentum he had to emerge from the five-hour thriller victorious.
Many rivals would have been bitter that their record of major titles had just been eclipsed, but that wasn’t Federer’s reaction. Instead, the Swiss posted an emotional message of congratulations on social media.
He was also clearly in awe of what Nadal had just achieved, especially considering he has just returned from a long injury layoff and a bout of Covid-19.
“To my friend and great rival, Rafael Nadal, heartfelt congratulations on becoming the first man to win 21 Grand Slam singles titles.
“A few months ago we were joking about both being on crutches. Amazing. Never underestimate a great champion.
“Your incredible work ethic, education and fighting spirit are an inspiration to me and countless others around the world.
“I am proud to share this era with you and honoured to play a role in pushing you to achieve more. As you have done for me the past 18 years.
“I am sure you have more achievements ahead but for now enjoy this one!”
A few days after his triumph in Melbourne, Nadal spoke of how grateful he was to receive such a heartfelt message.
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“It means a lot to me, he said. “We have an amazing relationship – we did amazing things together. For me it’s a great honour to be part of his era.
“Together we have enjoyed and lived amazing moments of the history of our sport. To receive a message like this from him means a lot to me.
“I wish him well, he knows, and I really hope that we will be able to play again in important stages.”
Some distrusting fans online had suggested that Federer’s message might have been a PR stunt to boost his popularity, but Marion Bartoli has rubbished those claims.
The 2013 Wimbledon champion has described the relationship she saw between Federer and Nadal while she was playing at the same events as them.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have a lot of respect and admiration for one another
“It was not staged. They have fun together, they spend time together in the player’s lounge.”
After his victory in Australia, Nadal will be hoping he can continue his reign as the ‘King of Clay’ by winning his 22nd Grand Slam at the French Open in May.
Meanwhile, Federer is not likely to be in Paris as he continues his recovery from his latest knee surgery, while the Swiss’ long-term future in the sport is in doubt.
They plan appear together at an event later in the year, though, after it was announced that they are set to be doubles partners representing Team Europe at the Laver Cup in September.