Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have both praised Rafael Nadal after an incredible comeback win in the Australian Open final.
Right at the top of the grand slam count in men’s tennis, Nadal was tied with Federer and Djokovic on 20 majors each heading into Sunday’s final. Then of course Nadal re-wrote the history books.
After having to modify his game to compensate for degenerative bone disease, this crowns an extraordinary effort. Nadal shared that during the tournament last year, he thought the injury would force him into early retirement, making his achievement even more remarkable.
Federer, who came close to becoming the first to achieve 21 grand slams when he lost in five sets to Djokovic in the 2019 Wimbledon final, missed the Australian Open as he was recovering from knee surgery.
“To my friend and great rival @rafaelnadal, heartfelt congratulations on becoming the first man to win 21 Grand Slam singles titles,” Federer posted on Instagram.
“A few months ago we were joking about both being on crutches. Amazing. Never underestimate a great champion.
“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, as you have done for me in the past 18 years.
“I am sure you have more achievements ahead but for now enjoy this one!”
Djokovic’s hopes of being the first man to reach 21 major victories were immediately over when he was deported from Australia prior to the grand slam over vaccination issues.
The 34-year-old Serbian tweeted his congratulations after he had first saluted Ash Barty on her title win on Saturday night.
“There has been some outstanding tennis played at this year’s #AusOpen and the finals were exceptional. Congratulations to @ashbarty for an amazing performance in front of her home crowd and to Danielle Collins for an incredible tournament,” Djokovic tweeted.
“Congratulations to @RafaelNadal for 21st GS. Amazing achievement. Always impressive fighting spirit that prevailed another time.”
He added Medvedev “gave it his all out there and played with the passion and determination we have come to expect from him”.
“You put up one hell of a fight today and I know you will have many more Grand Slam wins in your future,” Djokovic wrote.
Djokovic has made no secret of his desire to be top of the tree with grand slam titles. Last year Nadal said his rival was “obsessed” with the concept of winning the most majors.
Leaving aside whether he’ll even be allowed to compete at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US open over vaccination issues, Djokovic has plenty of work to do to catch Nadal.
This article first appeared on Over60.