Roger Federer lauds ‘gigantic’ Rafael Nadal as he provides update on injury comeback

Rafa Nadal reacts to winning French Open at Roland-Garros

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Roger Federer has hailed Rafael Nadal for his recent Grand Slam surge and confirmed return plans after the Spaniard extended his major wins record with victory at the French Open. Nadal lifted his 22nd Grand Slam at Roland Garros, stretching ahead of Federer and Novak Djokovic, who boast 20 each.

Speaking to Simon Graf, the 40-year-old icon labelled Nadal’s achievement ‘unbelievable’ and praised him for continuing to ‘raise the bar’. He pointed out that the Spaniard’s 14th French Open win is the same number of Grand Slam titles he claimed to beat Pete Sampras’ record in 2009.

He said: “I didn’t watch the final. I watched the quarter-final [against Djokovic] a bit before I went to sleep. In general, it’s just unbelievable what Rafa has achieved. The record of Pete Sampras, which I beat, was 14 Grand Slam titles.

“Now Rafa won the French Open 14 times. That’s unbelievable. I was happy for him that he did it again. Hats off to Rafa. After the tenth, eleventh time, I already thought: This can’t be. He keeps raising the bar. It’s gigantic.”

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Federer also confirmed he plans to return to the ATP Tour in time for the 2023 season once he completes his recovery from his third knee surgery last summer. “Yes, definitely. How and where I don’t know yet. But that would be the idea. Definitely.”

The Laver Cup in September and the Swiss Indoors in Basel in October feature on his comeback plan. But he has already confirmed he doesn’t intend to return on a full-time basis once he’s fully fit due to issues that could arise with spending time with his children and family on the road.

Djokovic is the overwhelming favourite to clinch a seventh Wimbledon title and move one behind Federer’s record in SW19 this summer. But despite concerns over his fitness, Nadal is also vying to move one step away from achieving the Calendar Slam after his uncle sounded optimistic about his chances of competing.

“I talked to him.” Toni explained. “At first, he said: ‘Everything hurts’. But when we spoke yesterday, he said it was much better. He wants to train. And if he has a little chance, he will play at Wimbledon. He goes on the court on Monday.”

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