Tennis

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Roger Federer pays tribute to Rafael Nadal after winning latest award

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Their rivalry can be spoken of in the same sentence as Helen Wills vs Helen Jacobs, Andre Agassi vs Pete Sampras, Steffi Graf vs Monica Seles, Serena vs Venus and of course John McEnroe vs Bjorn Borg.

Like those mentioned above, Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer has defined over a decade of their sport.

Unlike some of those other rivalries, the respect they share for one another has been truly admirable and is often why their matches are so compelling to watch.

And twenty-time grand slam winner Federer showed his class once again at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco.

The 36-year-old spent much of 2016 recovering from a recurring knee injury but returned to win both the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2017, before successfully defending his title in Melbourne, earlier this year.

Federer managed to beat Cristiano Ronaldo and British trio Chris Froome, Mo Farah and Lewis Hamilton and Nadal to win the sportsman of the year prize.

Speaking in Monaco, the Swiss paid an emotional tribute to his long-time rival Nadal.

"To my rival Rafa, I wanted to just give a shout-out to him,” the 36-year-old said, as per ESPN.

TENNIS-WTA-ATP-CHN

"He had an unbelievable year himself. We had a great battle and it's because of a guy like him, I feel like I've become a better player as well.

"He could very well be here as well and standing here with this award. He's an incredible player, incredible friend, an incredible athlete."

"All the matches that you've played against one another, they sort of connect you to some extent.

"When you lose against a guy 9-7 in the fifth [set] or you win 9-7 in the fifth, it leaves something special there for everyone.

"Whenever you walk past a guy, you know there was a match that really shaped your character maybe as well."

"It's like a hammer banging at the door, eventually you feel like it's going to break through.

Winners Press Conference and Photocalls - 2018 Laureus World Sports Awards - Monaco

"You have to hold back the door and just not let that come to you. I think it's made me extremely resilient and strong, having to answer all these questions.

"I think this has been a big challenge for me, just not letting that get to my head and truly listening to myself and my team. Can I actually still win? As long as I believe truly I can still win, then I believe it was worth it to come back. That's the feeling I had. I feel like I never really let that [negativity] come to me.

"It's been wonderful -- not to prove people wrong, but just to prove myself and my team right."

Just sheer class from Federer.

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Topics:
Tennis
Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer

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