Rafael Nadal’s 13th French Open was hailed as “one of sport’s greatest achievements” by close friend and rival Roger Federer, but for the chasing pack of players, it was another dagger in their hearts.
Nadal, who has now gone level with Federer on 20 Grand Slams, has won six since turning 30. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has won five of his 17 since leaving his 20s while Federer, now 39, claimed four after his 30th birthday.
The numbers illustrate how big the gap remains between the Big Three and the rest.
Nadal’s 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 win over Djokovic in the Roland Garros final allowed him to join the Serb in winning Majors in three different decades.
The 34-year-old Spaniard insisted that he won’t become obsessed with ending his career as the all-time highest Slam winner.
“I would love to finish my career being the player with more Grand Slams,” he said after winning his 100th match at Roland Garros against just two losses in 15 years.
“But I’m not going to be thinking all the time Novak has this one, Roger is winning the other one. You can’t be always unhappy because your neighbour has a bigger house than you, a bigger boat or a better phone.
“In terms of these records, of course I care. For me, it means a lot to share this number with Roger. But let’s see what happens when we finish our careers. We will keep playing. I don’t know what will happen in the future.”
Despite his loss on Sunday which cost him the chance to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all the four Majors twice, Djokovic believes the 20-Slam mark can be bettered.
“If I thought it was too late, I would have ended my career today,” Djokovic told the Serbian media after his seventh loss in eight meetings with Nadal in Paris. “Myself, Nadal, Federer have been written off many times but we keep coming back and proving that we are still the best in the world.
“My goals remain the same — the historic number one ranking and Grand Slam titles,” said Djokovic.