Rafael Nadal: 'Roger Federer is my great friend and rival, it's amazing to match him'

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Rafael Nadal: 'Roger Federer is my great friend and rival, it's amazing to match him'

For the second time in his career, the Spanish star Rafael Nadal earned the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsman of the Year! It is Nadal's first Laureus award in ten years, becoming the third tennis player with multiple awards after Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, who have won nine combined.

Nadal earned the award in front of Joshua Cheptegei, Armand Duplantis, Lewis Hamilton, LeBron James and Robert Lewandowski thanks to his 13th Roland Garros crown and the 20th Major, matching Roger Federer's record for the first time.

In an emotional speech with the trophy in his hands, Rafa said that the winning of the 20th Major title was an incredible moment, especially after battling against his friend and rival Roger for 15 years. "I want to say thank you very much from the bottom of my heart to the Laureus Academy.

I have had some fantastic competitors. The rest of the sportsmen probably deserve the trophy the same as me, but this was my year, and I can't be happier. Winning the French Open and equalling Roger Federer's record of 20 Major titles has been an unforgettable moment.

It means a lot to equal my great rival, but at the same time, my great friend. It's something extraordinary after all the history we have had together on and off the court. The pandemic we are facing is unprecedented, and I want to send a message of support to all the families who have suffered or lost somebody.

Rafael Nadal spoke about Roger Federer after winning the second Laureus award.

I suppose that the Academy members decided based on the fact that I claimed the 20th Major title and equaled Roger Federer's record. It means a lot, especially at this stage of my career; it's the most unexpected award in my life.

The last year was challenging for all of us due to the pandemic; I would give away my Roland Garros crown if that could have erased everything that happened. Many people lost their relatives and jobs, and it wasn't easy for me to play again after such a long break.

I missed the US Open and had to make the decision. I didn't prepare well for Roland Garros, with only a couple of tournaments in the entire season. I'm almost 35, and it's not easy for me to win the big events against the younger rivals.

I have been here since 2003, and you need a passion to stay competitive for all those years. Also, you have to be ready to adapt, as the sport changes quickly. I want to continue doing the best thing that I think I do: play tennis.

And when my career comes to an end, I hope to fit in well because it will not be easy, although I have an intense life outside of tennis that fulfills me," Rafael Nadal said.