RAFAEL NADAL revealed his ongoing rivalry with fellow tennis legend Roger Federer stays on the court – because they are good friends off it.
The pair – often referred to collectively as 'Fedal' – are the two most-successful male tennis players of all time with a combined 39 Grand Slam singles titles and almost £200million in career prize money between them.
But with their careers intertwined since Nadal burst on to the scene in 2004, the Spaniard revealed they get on really well after sharing the limelight for so many years.
He said: "It’s a rivalry, of course, but it’s also a friendship.
"We’re having a great story together. We have had long careers.
"Facing each other in the most important tournaments for such a very, very long time.
"Creating positive things for charity, playing in special events like we did in Cape Town in South Africa like we did a few weeks ago."
Federer may lead Nadal 20-19 in terms of Grand Slam titles – and 103-85 in all tournaments – but it is the Spaniard who leads the head-to-head record 24-16.
He won the first meeting – a 6-3 6-3 win at the Miami Open in 2004 – and did the same when they initially faced off at a Grand Slam.
RIVALRY FOR THE AGES
In total, Fedal have played nine Grand Slam finals with Nadal, 33, winning five – although Federer did win their most-recent major final meeting in Australia in 2017.
At Wimbledon in 2008, with Federer looking to complete a hat-trick of SW19 final victories over Nadal, the Spaniard finally got his revenge, winning 9-7 in the fifth set in what is widely regarded as the greatest tennis match of all time.
They met twice in 2019 – at the French Open and at Wimbledon – with the Swiss superstar claiming their most-recent clash with a dominant win on Centre Court.
Since then, though, Federer and Nadal, with a combined age of 81, teamed up to help Europe beat the Rest of World in the Laver Cup.
And in February, the iconic figures of the sport headed to Cape Town together to play in the Match For Africa.
As well as having a record 51,954 fans in attendance as they took to the court with Bill Gates, Rugby World Cup hero Siya Kolisi and comedian Trevor Noah, they raised a whopping £2.7million for charity.
Federer, 38, has since gone under the knife to have surgery on a problematic knee which has ruled him out of the clay-court season and makes him a doubt for Wimbledon.
And with Nadal aiming for yet another French Open title at Roland Garros, he knows it would be lucky No13.
That is because the win would draw him level with Federer at the top of the tree for Grand Slam titles and pull three clear of Novak Djokovic, who has won five of the last seven including January's Australian Open.
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