British tennis star Andy Murray has paid Rafael Nadal the ultimate compliment after the Spaniard's remarkable record-extending 13th title at the French Open.
Nadal took Novak Djokovic apart in the Roland Garros final as he equalled Roger Federer's career haul of 20 grand slam singles titles.
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The World No.2 also brought up a century of wins on the Paris clay, with his overall record there standing at 100 wins and just two losses.
It is an extraordinary feat that has left the tennis world scratching its head in disbelief and Murray doesn't think it will ever be matched by another player.
“I didn’t see loads of the match, I was practising while it was going on. I saw a little bit at the end. Amazing achievement," Murray said.
“Obviously he could win another one and make it 14 or 15, whatever he finishes on, but he is one short of winning the same amount of grand slams as (Pete) Sampras did at just one tournament.
“It’s incredible. I think it’s one of the best records in sport, maybe the best. I don’t think it will ever be repeated and I actually don’t think anyone will get close to it.”
The three-time grand slam champion admits now that Nadal has equalled Federer's record number of grand slam titles, he expects the 34-year-old Spaniard and the 33-year-old Djokovic to surpass the Swiss ace.
“Providing they all stay fit, and if they retire all at the same age, then I would think it would be between Rafa and Novak.”
Aged 34 and a long-term sufferer of knee tendinitis and a number of other ailments from foot to wrist to shoulder, Nadal might be forgiven for packing it all in and taking life easy in his native Majorca.
No end in sight for Nadal
The bad news for his challengers, however, is that Nadal has no intention of walking away just yet, especially after his latest title.
"Winning is what you play for," Nadal told AFP in a telephone interview on Monday.
"In high-level competition, what counts is victory. That is a reality.
"And beyond the victory, there is an even greater personal satisfaction because at certain times I have had to make sacrifices to achieve the goal."
Nadal was just 19 when he first won at Roland Garros and quickly established himself as the King of Clay by winning four French titles in a row.
In 2009 he surprised everyone by losing to Roger Soderling in the fourth round but returned the following year to beat the Swede in the final and start another winning run of 39 matches and five titles.
Djokovic beat him in 2015 and a year later he had to withdraw after the second round with a wrist injury but he was back on top in 2017 and remains there still, as dominant as he was when he saw off Puerta all those years ago.
"What has changed is age," he laughs. "The only negative is that I am 15 years older.
"Everything else, the basic and important things in my life, have not changed much.
"I still live practically in the same place, with the same friends and the reality is that my way of life when I am out of tournaments has changed relatively little."
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