Roger Federer’s bold statement on Grand Slam record as Rafael Nadal targets glory

Roger Federer 'not the player he was' says Rupert Bell

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Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles could soon be eclipsed with Rafael Nadal on the verge of history at the Australian Open. The Spaniard faces Daniil Medvedev knowing victory would see him move out in front when it comes to majors. Yet according to Federer, the record is bound to be broken by somebody else in the future.

Nadal has been in bulldozing form at the Australian Open so far.

The Spaniard was too strong for Matteo Berrettini on Friday, beating his Italian opponent 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to make the final.

Nadal previously won this competition back in 2009, when he beat Federer in the final, and has lost four times at the same stage since then.

And he can bring things full circle by adding a second trophy to his cabinet with victory over Medvedev on Sunday, even if the Russian is the favourite.

It promises to be a thrilling showdown at the Rod Laver Arena, especially with history now on the line.

Federer has been quiet throughout the Australian Open so far, with the Swiss maestro choosing to skip the competition as he battles for full fitness.

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Yet speaking last year, when quizzed on the future of Grand Slam tennis, the veteran expressed a belief that the records he, Nadal and Novak Djokovic have amassed will one day be broken.

“Well, look, he obviously was speaking for himself,” the 40-year-old told GQ when quizzed on comments from Djokovic, who had tipped all three to win more than 20 Grand Slam titles each.

“He’s on adrenaline when he’s saying that and he doesn’t know where I am or where Rafael is.

“But he means well, obviously.

“I feel like there were hard court players, clay court players and there weren’t so many players who could play on all surfaces.

“Sure, [Bjorn] Borg did it, but things were different. Players weren’t chasing one Slam after another like they are today and record after record.

“Nowadays such a strategy is much more part of your career.

“So, yes, a new, incredible player will, I believe, break our run of 20 Grand Slams eventually – but not overnight.”

Nadal, for his part, has shut down the pressure of bettering both Federer and Djokovic’s records ahead of his final clash with Medvedev.

“I feel lucky just to be playing tennis and playing with a great attitude, positive feelings, just a little bit alive again in terms of competitive spirit,” he told Eurosport.

“I missed that feeling. I know the pressure is not much for me now. I never believed that I would have the chance to be where I am today so I am just enjoying every single moment.”

Later in his press conference, Nadal added: “For me it’s something completely unexpected, so I am super happy. Of course everybody knows me, and I am always going to try my best. Of course my goal now is to win.

“But it’s a present, just be here and play tennis. I am now taking things a little bit in a different way.

“Of course always with the competitive spirit that I have, because I can’t go against that. It’s my personal DNA.

“But in some way, just be what I am and be able to have the chance to compete at this level, it’s a positive energy for me to keep going, because at the end of the day, and being very honest, for me is much more important to have the chance to play tennis than win the 21.

“Because that’s what makes me more happy in terms of general life, to be able to do the thing that I like to do more than achieving another Grand Slam.

“At the end of the day, life, it’s about happiness and what makes me happy. It’s about just having the chance to do what I like to do.”

Nadal has won three of his four matches against Medvedev so far.

Yet the 35-year-old lost their last showdown at the Nitto ATP finals in 2020 going down 6-3, 6-7, 3-6 in their semi-final clash.

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