Tennis

Rafael Nadal cried when Roger Federer won the French Open

Great rivals with great respect (©GettyImages)
Great rivals with great respect (©GettyImages).

Rafael Nadal successfully won a ninth French Open title after a simply irresistible performance against Novak Djokovic in the final, and there were no tears for the Spaniard like there were in 2009.

Five years ago Nadal lost his first and only (to date) match at Roland Garros in a shocking fourth round clash with Robin Soderling. That defeat allowed Roger Federer to go on and win his first Grand Slam on the clay and complete his Career Slam.

Rather than weeping that he couldn't carry-on his unbelievable run, Nadal shed tears of joy for his great rival that day. 

"I got emotional. He deserved to win that tournament, after so many finals and semi-finals. He deserved to win all four Grand Slams," he said in an interview for L'Equipe. 

Federer drew level with Pete Sampras' all-time Grand Slam haul of 14 with that win - something that Nadal has now also managed by beating Djokovic on Sunday - and it came after years of turmoil for the Swiss star.

In 2006, 2007 and 2008, Federer succumbed to the youngster who earned his title as 'King of Clay' in the Paris finales.

Now 32-years-old, the former world no.1 has never been able to repeat that win, and he departed this year to eventual semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis in the early rounds. Another final loss in 2011 meant that Federer was never able to break his duck against the clay specialist at his favourite event.

While Nadal never let tennis' most successful star - with 17 major titles - dethrone him in France, the duo have had some epic matches in past with wins for both men.

At Wimbledon in 2007 and 2008, the rivals were part of arguably two of the greatest ever Grand Slam finals with one win apiece. However, it is the current world no.1 who has the better head-to-head record with 23 wins to Federer's 10. 

Switching back to Sunday's final, with Federer ageing, albeit gracefully, the Djokovic/Nadal rivalry has firmly established itself as the fiercest on the current circuit and potentially in the history of the sport.

Djokovic tasted defeat at this stage in 2012 and the in-form world no.2 will certainly be smarting after his latest defeat against the 28-year-old.

They have played an astonishing 41 times, over half in finals, and Nadal edges it, just, with 22 wins. However, the Serbian star has won their last four encounters, including a very significant success in their last match at the Rome Masters just before the French tournament, an event which the Majorcan-born star usually triumphs. 

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Topics:
Roger Federer
Tennis
French Open
Rafael Nadal

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