Ace tennis players -- Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic -- on Sunday congratulated their long-time rival Rafael Nadal, who won a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title after defeating Daniil Medvedev in the final of the Australian Open 2022 in Melbourne.
Under the lights at Rod Laver Arena, the legendary Spaniard roared back from two-sets-to-love down to overcome the Russian Medvedev 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in an epic five hours and 24 minutes final to win the Australian Open men singles trophy.
With his dramatic victory, Nadal claimed sole ownership of the record for the most men's singles Grand Slam titles, moving past Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic who are both on 20 major crowns.
"What a match! To my friend and great rival @RafaelNadal, heartfelt congratulations on becoming the first man to win 21 Grand Slam singles titles. A few months ago we were joking about both being on crutches. Amazing," Federer wrote on Instagram.
"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," he added.
Notably, Swiss legend Federer missed the Australian Open 2022 to continue his rehabilitation from knee surgery.
Having suffered four final defeats in 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2019, Nadal now has a second Melbourne Park crown, 13 years after beating Federer in the 2009 decider.
Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic, who was deported from Australia on the eve of the tournament due to visa issues over his choice on Covid-19 vaccination, also congratulated Nadal on his historic win.
"Congratulations to @RafaelNadal for 21st GS. Amazing achievement. Always an 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," said Djokovic in a tweet along with pictures of Nadal and Medvedev.
The 35-year-old has also become just the second player in the Open Era alongside Djokovic to win each of the four majors at least twice. He is also the third-oldest man in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam title after Ken Rosewall and Federer.
The Spaniard now has 58 'Big Titles', putting him four behind Djokovic (62) and four clear of Roger Federer (54). A 'Big Title' is a trophy at a Grand Slam championship, the ATP Finals, an ATP Masters 1000 tournament, or an Olympic singles gold medal.
Djokovic has the best 'Big Titles' win rate at one title won per 3.3 events played (62/202), while Nadal has claimed a 'Big Title' for every 3.5 tournaments played at this level (58/198). Only two other players have converted more than once per five events: Roger Federer (4.4, 54/240) and Pete Sampras (4.9, 30/147).
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