ROGER FEDERER paid a heartfelt tribute to 'greatest rival' Rafa Nadal as the Spaniard drew level in the race for the most tennis Slams.
Ever since he won Wimbledon in 2003, the Swiss rival has led the way, setting the standard for Nadal and Novak Djokovic to follow.
But Nadal’s trouncing of Serbian Djokovic in Sunday’s French Open final – he won 6-0 6-2 7-5 in Paris – represented the 20th major of an extraordinary career.
It means Federer, 39, and Nadal, 34, are now locked together at the top of the rankings.
And given his age and dominance on clay – this was Nadal’s 13th French Open victory – you would favour the younger man to move ahead in the stakes in 2021.
Either at the Australian Open in Melbourne in the New Year or back in the French capital next spring – Covid-19 restrictions notwithstanding.
Federer is recovering from knee surgery and has not played since losing to Djokovic in the Australian Open semi-finals in January.
Writing on Instagram, Federer said: “I’ve 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’s a true honour for me to congratulate him on his 20th Grand Slam victory.
“It is especially amazing that he has now won Roland Garros an incredible 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.”
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