Thursday, June 30, 2022

Rafael Nadal 21st Grand Slam: Nadal pays tribute to Grand Slam rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, says ‘Feel lucky to be part of this era’

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Rafael Nadal 21st Grand Slam-Nadal pays tribute to Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic: Rafa Nadal said he was lucky to be part of an era of tennis that included Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic after the Spaniard won a men’s record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open to move one ahead of his two great rivals.

Rafael Nadal 21st Grand Slam: Nadal pays tribute to Grand Slam rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, says ‘Feel lucky to be part of this era’

Nadal roared back from two sets down to edge Daniil Medvedev 2-6 6-7(5) 6-4 6-4 7-5 in a classic final on Sunday, only months after fearing his glorious career might be over because of a niggling left foot injury.

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Rafael Nadal 21st Grand Slam: He then paid tribute to Federer, who missed the year’s first Grand Slam to continue his rehabilitation from knee surgery and Djokovic, who was deported following a dispute over Australia’s COVID-19 entry requirements and his unvaccinated status.

Rafael Nadal 21st Grand Slam: Nadal pays tribute to Grand Slam rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, says ‘Feel lucky to be part of this era’

“At the end of the day, it’s just a game and in some way we achieved more than what we ever dreamed of when we were kids,” Nadal told reporters. “It doesn’t matter that much if one is 21, one is 20, or the other finished 23 and the other with 21.

“I think we did very important things for our sport and we achieved our dreams and we enjoy it. I feel lucky to be part of this era that has been very special for our sport.”

Rafael Nadal 21st Grand Slam: The 35-year-old, who pulled out of Wimbledon, the Tokyo Olympics and the U.S. Open in 2021 and returned to competitive action last month, said the satisfaction of winning his second Australian Open crown was impossible to describe.

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“It’s amazing to have this trophy with me,” Nadal said. “I tried hard during my career here in Australia, finally, it was probably the most unexpected year for me to achieve, one more time this beautiful trophy so I’m super happy.”

Rafael Nadal 21st Grand Slam: Nadal pays tribute to Grand Slam rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, says ‘Feel lucky to be part of this era’

Nadal said he was not thinking about his next tournament.

Rafael Nadal 21st Grand Slam: “I have my schedule planned, but I’m enjoying the moment… I need to see how my body recovers from an amazing month and I’m going to make my decision,” Nadal said.

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