Rafael Nadal showed Roger Federer the ultimate respect after he demolished his rival at Roland Garros.
For most tennis players winning a Grand Slam title would be a career-defining achievement, but for Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal it has become a common occurrence.
Back in 2008, Nadal won major title number four with a fourth consecutive victory on the clay at the age of just 22, as Federer, then 26, lost his third final in a row in France.
Despite the obvious joy of the Spaniard and his family after what turned into a very comfortable victory, he had no intention of over-celebrating in front of his opponent.
“Given my relationship with Roger I did not want to celebrate too much,” he said after the 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 triumph.
Federer was full of praise for his rival, despite it being the 11th time he had lost in their 17 meetings, and mentioned why he couldn’t keep up on the day.
“When he is on the attack he is lethal and he made some incredible defensive shots,” said the Swiss.
“I had a small chance in the second set, but he has played a terrific tournament.
“To come up with a performance like this shows what a great champion he is.
“He plays like two forehands from the baseline because he has an open stance on both sides.
“So he’s got a huge advantage, and he’s so tough mentally too.
“I don’t think I served badly, but he has made huge progress returning it, and I realised there was nothing I could do.
“He no longer plays short balls as he did in the past, and you can no longer attack him on his forehand.
“He was just much stronger than me today. But the clay season is over, so let’s see what happens.”
Federer went on to lose in the Wimbledon final to Nadal just over a month later, with the pair now almost neck and neck for titles in 2019.
Federer still retains the all-time record with 20 Grand Slam victories, as Nadal closes in with 19 after wins at both the French Open and the US Open in the current season.