Modest Rafael Nadal joins tennis’ elite 1 000-win club

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Rafael Nadal said he was proud of a “great achievement” after securing the 1 000th Tour-level victory of his illustrious career on Wednesday, becoming the fourth man to reach that mark with a comeback win over Feliciano Lopez in the Paris Masters second round.

‘IT’S A GREAT ACHIEVEMENT FOR ME’

The 20-time Grand Slam champion, back in the French capital less than a month after winning his 13th Roland Garros title, edged out his fellow Spaniard 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.

“I am proud about a lot of things, but I faced some challenges in my career in terms of body injuries,” said Nadal.

“But I always had the passion to keep going and the humility to keep going when things are going in a way you don’t expect.

“It’s a great achievement for me.”

Nadal, whose first match win on the ATP Tour came in April 2002 when he was just 15, is fourth on the all-time list, with Jimmy Connors leading the way on 1 274 victories, 32 more than second-placed Roger Federer.

“One negative thing about getting to 1 000 – is that you’re very old as it means you have to have had a very long career,” added Nadal.

“But I’m very happy.”

Ivan Lendl also passed the 1 000-win barrier.

Nadal was given a special presentation to celebrate his achievement after the match in a near-empty Bercy Arena, with the event being played behind closed doors after France entered its second coronavirus lockdown last week.

The 34-year-old Nadal, bidding for a first Paris Masters title, will face Jordan Thompson in the third round after the Australian beat Croatia’s Borna Coric 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Taking the trophy in Paris this week would see Nadal equal Novak Djokovic’s record of 36 Masters titles.

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