Novak Djokovic's classy act after Rafa Nadal's Aus Open triumph

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Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal, pictured here at the Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic paid a classy tribute to Rafa Nadal after the Australian Open final. Image: Getty

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have paid tribute to Rafa Nadal after the Spanish champion overtook them in the men's grand slam race.

Nadal produced an extraordinary comeback to beat Daniil Medvedev in Sunday night's Australian Open final, winning a men's record 21st major and going one past Federer and Djokovic.

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The 35-year-old Nadal battled back from two sets down to defeat Medvedev 2-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in a gruelling final that lasted five hours and 24 minutes.

On Sunday night, Djokovic and Federer both took to social media to congratulate their fierce rival.

"To my friend and great rival Rafael Nadal, heartfelt congratulations on becoming the first man to win 21 Grand Slam singles titles," 40-year-old Federer posted on Instagram.

"A few months ago we were joking about both being on crutches, amazing. Never underestimate a great champion.

“Your incredible work ethic, dedication and fighting spirit are an inspirational 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!”

Djokovic took to Twitter to hail Nadal's 'amazing' achievement, also congratulating Ash Barty on winning the women's title.

"Congratulations to Rafael Nadal for 21st GS. Amazing achievement,” he wrote.

“Always impressive fighting spirit that prevailed another time.

"Daniel Medvedev gave it his all out there and played with the passion and determination we have come to expect from him."

Rafa Nadal the first man to 21 grand slam titles

Federer and Djokovic have both had previous opportunities to claim a 21st major.

Federer lost to Djokovic in the Wimbledon final in 2019 while going for 21, while Djokovic lost to Medvedev in the 2021 US Open final.

Djokovic's hopes of being the first man to 21 were dashed when he was deported from Australia prior to the grand slam over vaccination issues.

However he showed his class on Sunday night with his tribute to Nadal.

Federer was unable to play the 2022 Australian Open as he continues to recover from a third round of knee surgery.

Rafael Nadal, pictured here with the Australian Open trophy and his coaching team in the locker room.
Rafael Nadal poses with the Australian Open trophy and his coaching team in the locker room. (Photo by Fiona Hamilton/Tennis Australia via Getty Images)

He admitted last year that he was targeting a return at Wimbledon in July, however it is no certainty.

Sunday night's sapping final was the second-longest in Australian Open history, behind only Nadal's five-hour, 53-minute loss to Djokovic in 2012.

"If we put everything together - the scenario, the momentum, what (it) means - yeah, without a doubt (it's) probably the biggest comeback of my tennis career," said an overjoyed but exhausted Nadal.

"Without a doubt, it's one of the most emotional moments in my tennis career.

"I'm going to keep trying my best to come back next year."

In winning the Australian Open for the second time - 13 years after his first triumph - Nadal also joins Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Djokovic as only the fourth man in tennis history to win each of the four grand slam titles at least twice.

with agencies

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