Rafael Nadal says he feels lucky to be playing in the same era as Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic after picking up a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open on Sunday.
Nadal fought back from two sets down to beat world No 2 Daniil Medvedev 2-6 6-7(5) 6-4 6-4 7-5 in a gruelling five-hour battle on Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.
The 35-year-old Spaniard now leads the race to finish his career with the most Grand Slam singles titles in history after moving one ahead of Federer and Djokovic.
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But Nadal says he is simply grateful to be spoken about in the same sentence as his two great rivals.
"At the end of the day, it's just a game and in some way we achieved more than what we ever dreamed of when we were kids," Nadal told reporters after winning his first Grand Slam title in Melbourne since 2009.
"It doesn't matter that much if one is 21, one is 20, or the other finished 23 and the other with 21.
"I think we did very important things for our sport and we achieved our dreams and we enjoy it. I feel lucky to be part of this era that has been very special for our sport."
'One of my most emotional matches' – Nadal's victory speech
Federer congratulated Nadal on social media after surpassing him the Grand Slam chase and Nadal says the pair enjoy an “amazing relationship”.
“It means a lot to me,” Nadal said after reading that Federer called him an "inspiration".
“We have an amazing relationship - we did amazing things together. For me it’s a great honour to be part of his era.
“Together we have enjoyed and lived amazing moments of the history of our sport. To receive a message like this from him means a lot to me.
“I wish him well, he knows, and I really hope that we will be able to play again in important stages.”
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Nadal doubted he would even be fit in time to play in the Australian Open due to a persistent wrist problem and says winning it has surprised him.
"It's amazing to have this trophy with me," he added.
"I tried hard during my career here in Australia, finally, it was probably the most unexpected year for me to achieve, one more time this beautiful trophy, so I'm super happy."
Highlights: Nadal wins Australian Open and claims 21st Grand Slam title
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