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Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic congratulate their ’great rival’ Rafael Nadal after record Slam feat

Spain's Rafael Nadal poses with the winner's trophy after his Australian Open win. Photo: William West/AFP

Spain's Rafael Nadal poses with the winner's trophy after his Australian Open win. Photo: William West/AFP

Published Jan 31, 2022

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By Ian Ransom

Melbourne - Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic congratulated their long-time rival Rafa Nadal after the Spaniard clinched a record all three players have been chasing - a 21st Grand Slam title - with his Australian Open triumph on Sunday.

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Nadal's victory over Daniil Medvedev in a five-set thriller put him one clear of Federer and world number one Novak Djokovic on the all-time Grand Slam titles race in the men's singles game.

"What a match! To my friend and great rival, Rafael Nadal. Heartfelt congratulations on becoming the first man to win 21 Grand Slam singles titles," Federer said in a social media post.

Djokovic had been top seeded in the draw for the Open but was unable to play, deported from Australia on the eve of the tournament in a dramatic dispute over the country's Covid-19 entry requirements and his unvaccinated status.

"Congratulations to @rafaelnadal for 21st GS. Amazing achievement. Always impressive fighting spirit that prevailed another time," the Serbian player said in a post on Instagram.

Federer missed the tournament to continue his rehabilitation from knee surgery.

"A few months ago we were joking about both being on crutches. Amazing. Never underestimate a great champion," the Swiss player said of Nadal.

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"Your incredible work ethic, dedication 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," added Federer.

"As you have done for me for the past 18 years.

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"I am sure you have more achievements ahead but for now enjoy this one!"

Reuters

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