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Rafa Nadal is the fourth man to reach 1,000 victories

The passionate tennis rivalry between Nadal and Djokovic 0:48

(CNN) – Rafael Nadal’s achievement of becoming the fourth man to record 1,000 ATP Tour match victories should have been celebrated with thunderous cheers and a standing ovation.

Instead, having beaten Feliciano López to reach the exclusive club, Nadal stayed to celebrate almost silently at a 20,000 empty-seat stadium in Paris, given the absence of spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 34-year-old Spaniard joined Jimmy Connors (1,274), Roger Federer (1,242) and Ivan Lendl (1,068) as the only men in the 1,000-win club since the Open era began in 1968 after their comeback 4- 6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 victory in his first match at the Paris Masters.

«[Ganar 1.000 partidos] it means I’m old. That means I played well for a long time, because achieving that number is because I have been playing well for many years and [eso] it’s something that makes me feel happy, “said Nadal.

“I can only thank all the people who helped me. And to all the people who at any time in my life helped me to be where I am ».

Rafael Nadal’s first victory

Nadal’s first ATP victory came when he was 15 years old. He beat Ramón Delgado, a Paraguayan then ranked 81st in the world, in a first-round match at the Mallorca Open in 2002. That victory earned him 15 ATP Ranking points and a check for US $ 5,850.

Eighteen years and nearly $ 122 million in prize money later Nadal is one of the most successful tennis players in history.

At the French Open last month, he equaled Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam wins.

Nadal’s first-round match was his first since claiming his 13th record title at Roland Garros.

SIGHT: Federer’s letter to Nadal after the Spanish title 20 in Grand Slam tournaments

“I started the game in the worst possible way, especially against a great server like Feli,” said Nadal. “After that, I played under a lot of pressure the rest of the game, but I found a way.

“That’s the main thing… This victory is one of which I am very proud. Personal satisfaction is sometimes greater when you win these games than if you go to the court and win 6-3 6-3 «.

Nadal returns a backhand to compatriot Lopez.

Nadal in the match against his compatriot López.

Nadal will face Jordan Thompson in the next round, after the Australian beat Borna Coric 2-6 6-4 6-2.

While he has been so successful in the French capital on clay courts, Nadal is aiming to win his first Paris Masters Title.

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