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Australian Open: Federer 'proud to share this era' with 'inspiration' Nadal, Djokovic sends congratulations

By Ben Spratt

Melbourne, Jan. 30: Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic each paid tribute to Rafael Nadal after he passed the pair with his 21st grand slam title at the Australian Open.

Nadal set a new men's singles benchmark, breaking a three-way tie with Federer and Djokovic on 20 triumphs, as he battled back against Daniil Medvedev.

The Spaniard, whose career had appeared to be in some doubt last year due to injury, fought for over five hours to recover from two sets down in Sunday's epic final.

Federer, through injury, and Djokovic, deported amid coronavirus controversy, were both absent in Melbourne, although they have previously let slip respective opportunities to move to 21 titles.

Both therefore recognised the scale of Nadal's achievement as they took to social media.

"What a match! To my friend and great rival @rafaelnadal, heartfelt congratulations on becoming the first man to win 21 grand slam singles titles," Federer wrote on his Instagram story.

"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 for the past 18 years.

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

Djokovic, posting for the first time since the tournament started in his absence, said on Twitter: "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.

"Congratulations to @RafaelNadal for 21st GS. Amazing achievement. Always impressive fighting spirit that prevailed another time. Enhorabuena.

"@Medwed33 gave it his all out there and played with the passion and determination we have come to expect from him."

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Story first published: Sunday, January 30, 2022, 21:50 [IST]
Other articles published on Jan 30, 2022