Everything Roger Federer does on court is sheer magic, but history has shown us that legends are made as much by what they do outside the court as they do inside.
You think about this and suddenly, it all makes sense. You figure out why exactly Roger Federer is called 'The Greatest Of All Time'. The irreplaceable tennis icon with incomparable backhands is also a good, very good human being.
He respects his rivals and never leaves a chance to say good things about them. Giving a speech after winning the Sportsman and Comeback of the Year titles at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco, Federer paid an emotional tribute to his 'rival Rafa', reports ESPN.
To my rival Rafa, I wanted to just give a shoutout to him. He had an unbelievable year himself. We had a great battle and it's because of a guy like him, I feel like I've become a better player as well.
Talking about the 'incredible player, incredible friend, an incredible athlete', Federer said that Nadal could very well be standing on the stage with the award, instead of him, and further added:
All the matches that you've played against one another, they sort of connect you to some extent. When you lose against a guy 9-7 in the fifth [set] or you win 9-7 in the fifth, it leaves something special there for everyone. Whenever you walk past a guy, you know there was a match that really shaped your character maybe as well.
Federer and Nadal share an off-the-court friendship which is as strong as their competitiveness and hunger to win when they compete against each other. And that is what makes this bond so beautiful.
Nadal was once told about his comparison with Federer and this is what he said in response.
These two are tennis legends, the greatest ever to play the game, and we should consider ourselves lucky to be able to witness this kind of talent, humility and overall greatness.
Rivals can be friends, don't take our word, but you'd be silly to not take Federer's.