Australian tennis great Ken Rosewall has celebrated the 50th anniversary of his Roland Garros triumph with the honour of presenting Rafael Nadal with his 11th Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy.
The Spanish world No.1 defeated Dominic Thiem in straight sets on Sunday to secure his second consecutive championship in Paris.
And Rosewall was right in the thick of it to commemorate his 1968 victory – the historic first grand slam of the Open Era.
The 83-year-old was presented to the crowd at the beginning of the trophy presentation, with a highlights package played on the big screen.
Nicknamed ‘Muscles’, he first won the French Open at 17 years old in 1953 and took out his second with a win over countryman Rod Laver in 1968.
“I’m very pleased I’m not playing today!” Rosewall said on court.
“The players of today on the tour are exceptional athletes and tennis players. No words can express what we feel about Rafa’s game and what he has done for the game of tennis on a worldwide basis.”
Rosewall and Nadal shared a warm embrace after the 32-year-old took the heavy trophy out of the Australian’s hands.
The silverware is much larger than the version Rosewall took home 50 years ago.
In commentary during the final, Australian Fred Stolle – who won the French Championships in 1965 – joked that his old trophy looks more like an egg cup in comparison.
On another day, if the result had been different in 1968, it might have been Laver in Paris presenting Nadal with the trophy.
Instead, he settled for a touching tribute on Twitter:
Congratulations @RafaelNadal you are spectacular on all surfaces but superhuman when it comes to clay! To win @rolandgarros 11 times is an unbelievable achievement & one that will never be surpassed. I’m proud to have got to know you over recent years and to call you my friend. pic.twitter.com/hDRwlOHUAn
— Rod Laver (@rodlaver) June 10, 2018
The victory edged Nadal closer to both Australians in a particularly impressive record they share with Roger Federer.
He now has three grand slam titles since turning 30.
Federer, Laver and Rosewall are the only men to have managed more, having done it four times.
“You can’t fight against age and you can’t fight against the watch. The watch keeps going always,” Nadal said.
“If you told seven or eight years ago that I will be here at 32 years old having this trophy with me again, I will tell you that is something almost impossible, but here we are.”
But while he wants to win more, Nadal is not eyeing off Federer’s mark of 20 championships.
He simply wants to celebrate his victory.
“Let me enjoy this title,” he said.
“I can’t be always thinking of more. Of course, I have ambition, I have passion for what I am doing, but I never have been crazy about all this kind of stuff.
“You can’t be frustrated always if somebody have more money than you, if somebody have a bigger house than you, if somebody have more grand slams than you. You can’t live with that feeling. You have to do your way.”