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Rafael Nadal has paid tribute to rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, saying it has been ‘an honour’ to play with them.

Nadal, Djokovic and Federer have shared an incredible 63 majors between them, with the Spaniard currently leading the way with 22.

Before they came along, the greatest Grand Slam champion in ATP history was Pete Sampras, who won 14. Many considered that an unbeatable total, but the Big Three have all cruised past it with the added difficulty of having to compete against each other.

It has been an unprecedented era of domination in men’s tennis with the three undisputed players of all time battling it out together, and Nadal has attempted to explain it from within the rivalry.

Asked what he hoped tennis historians would write about himself, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal said: “Well, yeah, have been a great story for our sport, having a lot of players that achieved a lot during the last 20 years, without a doubt.

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Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

“I think in some way we helped to make our sport better, more popular, and create more jobs in our tour. In general, I think there is more people in the world living from our sport. That says that our sport, it's bigger than before.

“I feel proud and happy to have a small contribution to the world of tennis. I think in a personal way have been amazing to share all these years with such great champions. Be part of this era is an absolutely honour.”

Nadal is attempting to win his 23rd major at the US Open, with him set to face Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round on Monday.

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