Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have become two of the most likeable characters in sport over the past 15 years, and what they said after the 2006 French Open final is a hint as to why.
In what was an entertaining clash between the two, Nadal handed Federer his first ever Grand Slam final defeat at Rolland Garros 13 years ago.
The Spaniard blocked his Swiss opponent from holding all four major titles at once for the first time since Rod Laver had, with Novak Djokovic going on to do so ten years later.
Despite both men giving their all, it was Nadal that came out on top with a 1–6, 6–1, 6–4, 7–6 (7–4) win to take home his second French Open title, with both men reserving special praise for their opposite man.
Nadal said: “This is a fantastic victory and an incredible moment in my career as a tennis player.
“Federer is the best player in history, no other player has ever had such quality.”
And Federer said afterwards: “I really want to congratulate Rafael.
“He is so strong on clay and played a really good match.
“He is so hard to beat on this surface.
“He’s performed a great season on clay and during the fortnight.
“He truly deserves to win.”
Federer, who missed out on a seventh major title that day, has gone on to take his tally to a record 20, with Nadal just one behind after a fruitful 2019.
The pair have revealed no plans to slow down in 2020, as both try to gain ground over Djokovic, who has won 16.
The pair combined to help Team Europe win at the recent Laver Cup, although Nadal missed out on a doubles meeting through injury.
The duo could face off once again the the upcoming ATP finals in London, however, Nadal has been known to miss out in recent editions as he plans for the following year.
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