Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have shared countless memorable moments on the court throughout tennis’ greatest rivalry, but the Swiss maestro has shared a heartwarming moment about his friend and rival.
Federer and Nadal attracted what organisers said was a world record crowd for a tennis match when they played an exhibition event in the Cape Town Stadium on Friday.
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The 20-time Grand Slam champ emerged victorious against the Spaniard in the 'Match in Africa'.
The match raised $3.5-million for the Roger Federer Foundation, which supports educational and athletic programmes for children in Africa.
But after the match, Federer revealed a special moment Nadal shared with him when asked about their relationship.
“He’s a great person with great values, he’s got a great family. We respect each other immensely,” Federer said.
“He told me today that he cried when I won my French Open in 2009, he was so happy for me.
“It’s a great rivalry. I know he only knows his career with me on the court, I knew a few years without him which was nice because there was no Rafa which made things easier, but there was Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi.
"Rafa told me today that he cried when I won my French Open in '09, he was so happy for me."— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) February 7, 2020
So much respect between two of the very best 👏@rogerfederer @RafaelNadal #MatchInAfrica pic.twitter.com/dulmCoVbji
“He’s been wonderful for the game, he’s promoted this sport in the best possible way, he’s got a huge fan base. I’m sure a lot of you guys are Rafa fans, he deserves everything and all the praise.
“To get together and do things for a good cause it’s only normal for both of us.”
Federer and Nadal break world record
The organisers said an audited attendance of 51,954 at the ‘Match of Africa’ beat the 42,517 who watched Federer play Alexander Zverev of Germany in Mexico City last November.
They also announced that the 'Match in Africa' raised $3.5-million for the Roger Federer Foundation, which supports educational and athletic programmes for children in Africa.
"To have 51,954 people in attendance at a tennis match, I never thought I'd be apart of something like that," said Federer. "It's not something you dream about.
Federer, who was accompanied by his South African mother, Lynette, said his first appearance in South Africa was a special occasion.
"The first time here in Cape Town, in South Africa, means so much more than just tennis," he said.
Federer won 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in a match in which the players had to contend with cool, windy conditions in the stadium that was built for the 2010 football World Cup.
The arena was packed with eager fans who sang, clapped and did the wave throughout the match.