Roger Federer claimed his 17th Major crown at Wimbledon 2012, controlling the GOAT race ahead of Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard won the title at Roland Garros a few weeks earlier and lifted three more Major trophies in 2013 and 2014 to reduce the deficit and move closer to Roger.
Two legends could not win a Major title in 2015 and 2016, allowing Novak Djokovic to join the race and challenge them in the years to come. Ten years after doing that for the last time, Federer and Nadal shared all four Majors in 2017 to extend their battle, with Roger opening a 20-16 lead following the 2018 Australian Open title.
As it turned out, it has been the last Major for the Swiss, allowing Nadal to melt the gap and match him with reliable performance in the previous four seasons. In 2019, Nadal grabbed two Majors and moved one away from Federer for the first time.
As we all know, the coronavirus pandemic turned the world upside down in 2020, canceling Wimbledon and shifting Roland Garros towards October. Spending six months at home in Mallorca and not training in March and April, Nadal started from the bottom in his preparations for the season restart, deciding to skip Cincinnati and the US Open and targeting Rome and Roland Garros as his prime objectives.
Seven and a half months since the Acapulco title, Rafa returned to the court in the Italian capital and suffered the quarter-final loss to Diego Schwartzman.
Rafael Nadal said it seemed impossible to reach Roger Federer's 20 Major titles.
Nadal appeared in Paris and sought the 13th Roland Garros crown from 16 trips to the French capital.
Despite all the challenges, the Spaniard was at his best at the beloved Major again, lifting the trophy and matching Roger Federer's record of 20 Major titles. Nadal defeated all seven rivals in straight sets, staying focused in the challenging moments against Jannik Sinner, Diego Schwartzman and Novak Djokovic to secure one of the most important crowns of his entire career.
After the victory over Djokovic in the final, Nadal said it had seemed impossible to equal Roger Federer's record in the past, working hard in the last couple of years and achieving a significant record at 34. "I do not know what it's been like because I have barely had a chance to look at anything.
I have achieved something significant on a sporting level: winning one of the world's most important tournaments 13 times and equalling Federer's 20 Majors. We have been talking about this for a long time, particularly the journalists. I have managed to equal a record that seemed impossible," Rafael Nadal said.