Rafael Nadal sends Novak Djokovic message after ‘impossible’ grand slam record

Djokovic has moved ahead of Nadal with a record-breaking 23rd grand slam title

Jamie Braidwood
Sunday 11 June 2023 18:54 BST
Moment Novak Djokovic lays down on tennis court after historic French Open win

Rafael Nadal has congratulated Novak Djokovic after the Serbian claimed a men’s record 23rd grand slam title with victory at the French Open.

Djokovic defeated Casper Ruud in straight sets to move ahead of Nadal as the most successful men’s player of all time after the pair had been level on 22 major victories.

The 36-year-old also broke Nadal’s record to become the oldest French Open champion in history - a feat the Spaniard achieved when he beat Ruud in last year’s final.

With Nadal absent from the French Open for the first time since 2005, Djokovic won the Roland Garros title for the third time in his career - with the Serbian also becoming the first men’s player in history to win each of the four grand slams at least three times.

Nadal will try to return to the French Open next year in what will be the 14-time Roland Garros champion’s final appearance on the Paris clay, but sent Djokovic a message on social media within minutes of his victory.

“Many congrats on this amazing achievement,” Nadal said.

“23 is a number that just a few years back was impossible to think about, and you made it! Enjoy it with your family and team!”

Nadal made it to 22 with his victory at last year’s French Open but Djokovic has now won three out of the past four grand slams to move ahead in the race for the first time.

It is also likely to be the last time the record changes hands. With Federer retiring from the sport last September and Nadal out until next January ahead of his swansong year in 2024, Djokovic now has the chance to put clear distance between himself and his two great rivals.

The Serbian will bid to match Federer’s Wimbledon record by winning an eighth championship at the All England Club next month, where Djokovic has won the last four men’s singles titles.

If he does so, he would level Margaret Court’s record of 24 majors.

Djokovic lost three French Open finals against Nadal, as well as another to Stan Wawrinka.

“It is no coincidence that I won the 23rd grand slam here in Paris because this tournament was really in my entire career the toughest to win,” Djokovic said.

“A lot of emotions here on this court, also off the court.”

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