Rafael Nadal is unsure whether he will play again this year as he basks in the "beautiful" feeling of sharing the record for men's grand slam singles titles with Roger Federer.

Nadal produced another masterclass at Roland Garros on Sunday, beating old foe Novak Djokovic 6-0 6-2 7-5 to win his favourite tournament for an astonishing 13th time.

The Spanish great also moved level with Federer's tally of 20 major triumphs, outclassing world number one Djokovic in Paris.

Nadal skipped the US Open, as he was not comfortable travelling to New York amid the coronavirus pandemic, before making his return to the ATP Tour in Rome in September following an absence of seven months.

The 34-year-old will soon turn his attention to deciding when he will next be in action, following another sublime performance on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Roger Federer hopes both he and Rafael Nadal can kick on from 20 grand slam titles after the Spaniard joined his rival on the landmark number.

Federer has long led the way for men's singles championships, yet a two-year drought allowed Nadal to close the gap.

The world number two then won the French Open final on Sunday against Novak Djokovic - a dominant 6-0 6-2 7-5 success - to match Federer's record tally.

It was a 13th triumph at Roland Garros, too, and Federer said he was only too happy to welcome Nadal to the top of the standings.

"I have always had the utmost respect for my friend Rafa as a person and as a champion," Federer wrote in a message posted to his Twitter page.

"As my greatest rival over many years, I believe we have pushed each other to become better players. Therefore, it is a true honour for me to congratulate him on his 20th grand slam victory.

"It is especially amazing that he has now won Roland Garros an incredible 13 times, which is one of the greatest achievements in sport.

"I also congratulate his team, because nobody can do this alone.

"I hope 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us. Well done, Rafa. You deserve it."

Federer will end 2020 without winning an ATP Tour event as he recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery.

Rafael Nadal brushed away talk of his record-equalling haul of grand slam triumphs as he focused on his Roland Garros "love story" after another French Open win.

Nadal thrashed world number one Novak Djokovic 6-0 6-2 7-5 to match Roger Federer's total of 20 men's singles titles at the tennis majors.

It was the Spaniard's 13th success on the red clay of Paris, raising his own benchmark further, and his long relationship with the crowd in France was at the forefront of the champion's mind.

"To win here means everything to me," Nadal said. "It's not the moment - honestly not for me - to think about the 20th, equalling Roger or this great number.

"For me, today is just a Roland Garros victory. Roland Garros means everything to me.

"I spent the most important moments of my tennis career here. I just want to say thank you very, very much to everybody here.

"For me, just to play here is a true inspiration. The love story I have with this city and this court is unforgettable."

So dominant was Nadal's latest win on Court Philippe-Chatrier that he apologised to rival Djokovic, who had not lost a completed match up to this point in 2020.

"Congrats to Novak for another great tournament," Nadal said. "Sorry for today. In Australia, he killed me a couple of times ago. Today was for me.

"That's part of the game. We've played plenty of times together - one day one wins, another day the other. So all the best for the future, Novak."

Djokovic acknowledged he had been completely outclassed.

"I want to say a huge congratulations to Rafa and your team and your family, of course," the top seed said in his post-final speech.

"What you are doing on this court is unbelievable - but not just this court. Throughout your entire career, you've been a great champion.

"Today you showed why you're king of the clay. I experienced it with my own skin.

"It was a very tough match for me today - obviously I am not so pleased with the way I played - but I was definitely outplayed by a better player today on the court."

Rafael Nadal matched Roger Federer's record of 20 grand slam singles titles and secured a 100th match victory at the French Open as he thrashed Novak Djokovic in the Roland Garros final.

A 6-0 6-2 7-5 defeat of the world number one gave Nadal a 13th major on the Paris clay, extending his own record for the most titles won by a player at a single grand slam.

It also meant that for the fourth time he went through the entire draw without dropping a set.

The career of the great Spaniard invites close examination to fully appreciate the prowess that has seen him run up such astonishing numbers.

Here is how he has staked a strong claim to be regarded among the greatest tennis players of all time - and unquestionably the king of clay.

DREAM DEBUT TO SERIAL THRILLER

Nadal turned 19 two days before winning his first French Open title, which came in 2005, on his debut appearance in the tournament.

His record on the Roland Garros clay shows Nadal has now won an astonishing 100 matches and lost only twice, with Robin Soderling and Djokovic the only men to defeat him. Djokovic sits second on the list in Paris, with 74 wins.

Of those 100 wins for Nadal, an incredible 81 have come without him dropping a set, 17 have come in four sets, and on two occasions he has won in five.

He has had 27 victories against players ranked inside the top 10 during his century of French successes and has never lost when he has reached the semi-final stage.

Sunday's win was a seventh for Nadal in eight Roland Garros clashes with Djokovic, and a third success in a French Open final against the Serbian after their 2012 and 2014 title matches.

In the men's game, Federer had been the only man to rack up 100 or more match wins in a single grand slam prior to Nadal joining him.

The Swiss veteran has won 102 matches at the Australian Open and 101 at Wimbledon.

ANOTHER LANDMARK LOOMING

Nadal has now moved to 999 career wins across all tournaments, with 201 defeats, and has captured 86 titles.

In the titles reckoning he sits fourth in the Open Era (behind Jimmy Connors' 109, Federer's 103 and Ivan Lendl's 94). A startling 60 of those titles from Nadal have come on clay.

Mallorca's favourite son has been a fixture in the top 10 on the ATP Tour since first breaking through to that level in April 2005 and has spent 209 weeks at world number one, a position he last occupied before last year's Australian Open.

He has won one Australian Open title, 13 now in Paris, two at Wimbledon and four at the US Open.

NADAL THE G.O.A.T.?

It still feels too early to make a call on which of the Big Three will be remembered as the greatest of all time, or more specifically of their era.

They each own a host of astounding records, but if all three were to finish their careers with 20 grand slams, which is not beyond the realms of possibility, then one tie-breaker might be their head-to-heads in the grand slams.

Nadal can point to a 10-4 winning record against Federer in the four majors, and now a 10-6 lead over Djokovic.

Before Sunday, he had lost his last three grand slam clashes with the man from Belgrade, but Nadal will now take some reining in.

Rafael Nadal equalled Roger Federer's record of 20 grand slam men's singles titles with his latest stunning French Open victory over Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

Nadal's remarkable record of Roland Garros success continued courtesy of an astonishing 6-0 6-2 7-5 win against the world number one on Philippe Chatrier.

Thirteen of the Spaniard's major triumphs have come on the red clay in Paris, where he has lost only twice - never in a final and not at all since the last eight in 2015 against Djokovic.

A 999th top-level victory and 100th at this event never looked to be in doubt as Nadal seized control from the outset to win the French Open without dropping a set across the tournament for the fourth time.

This was just Djokovic's second defeat of the season but came in a far more clinical manner than the first, when he was defaulted from the US Open for striking a line judge with the ball.

Djokovic - a 17-time grand slam champion - had swiftly sought to put Nadal to work with a series of drop shots, but the defending champion responded in typically masterful fashion and raced into a two-break lead in the opener.

Although the sort of brave defence so often associated with Djokovic was again on display, prompting some staggering rallies, he could not make significant progress against the Nadal serve and subsequently collapsed from 40-0 up on his own.

The Serbian deserved better than a first-set bagel - the first in a men's major final since 2006 - yet soon trailed again in the second, sending a tired forehand into the net at the end of another draining game.

Djokovic puffed out his cheeks as Nadal refused to relent, breaking once more and coasting through the remainder of another straightforward set to bring the Musketeers' Cup firmly into view.

The top seed dug in at the start of the third and even quickly recovered to level the set after a meek break to love granted Nadal complete command.

Djokovic's renewed resilience briefly kept his opponent at bay, but a contentious double-fault proved the decisive blow and Nadal served out the championship to love with an ace to match Federer, a man five years his senior who has not won an ATP Tour event in 2020 and continues to recover from arthroscopic knee surgery.

Margaret Court's overall record of 24 singles major championships is surely now in the king of clay's sights.


Data Slam: Stunning start sets the tone

For much of the 48-minute opening set, Djokovic gave as good as he got. But Nadal dominated in key areas - Djokovic's first serve was at 42 per cent, while he won just three of 18 short rallies - to result in a one-sided scoreline. Only twice has this rivalry produced a 6-0 set, the other coming as Nadal also raced into a lead in last year's Internazionali d'Italia final.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal – 31/14
Djokovic – 38/52

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal – 4/1
Djokovic – 1/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 7/18
Djokovic – 1/5

Rafael Nadal dominated Novak Djokovic 6-0 6-2 7-5 in the French Open final on Sunday to tie Roger Federer's record of 20 grand slam titles.

Novak Djokovic needed just an hour and 23 minutes to swat aside the challenge of Ricardas Berankis at the French Open and reach a new career milestone.

A 6-1 6-2 6-2 victory was as ruthless and rapid as the scoreline suggests, with Djokovic racing through to the third round.

They had played twice before, and Berankis tested Djokovic before losing in two tight sets at August's Masters 1000 tournament in New York.

But Thursday's match produced exactly the same scoreline as in their first clash, seven years ago in the first round of the US Open, and showed the gulf between the world number one and the player ranked 66th on the men's tour.

Victory means Djokovic racked up a 70th win in singles action at Roland Garros, having already reached that mark at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

His French Open wins tally has now equalled that of Roger Federer, who is absent this year as he recovers from knee surgery. Djokovic and Federer sit joint second on the all-time list for the most wins in the men's singles at Roland Garros, behind clear leader Rafael Nadal, who has chalked up 95 victories in 97 matches.

Court Philippe-Chatrier has seen Djokovic come and go quickly in both his matches so far, with the thrashing of Berankis completed in 15 fewer minutes than it took the Serbian to see off Sweden's Mikael Ymer in round one.

Roger Federer was once a habitual racket smasher but give him a chance and he'll duck this argument.

Rafael Nadal possesses just about the meanest snarl in tennis but he could let this argument drop happily too.

Even Novak Djokovic, no stranger to an argument, is averse to causing a rumpus in this case.

Yet the question of which of the Big Three is the greatest men's tennis player of all time can provoke boisterous debate beyond the locker room, sparking hostility even among the sport's Prosecco and prawn sandwich brigade. Never underestimate the ferocity of a tennis stan.

There may never be a satisfactory answer, given that in all likelihood, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic will each end their careers on or around the 20 grand slam titles mark.

Considering Pete Sampras was once portrayed as super-human for reaching 14 slams, the achievements by the three titans of the modern game beggar belief.

Each man has taken tennis to new levels, in his own way, and as a new generation begins to rise, we have reached an apposite moment to examine the numbers that show how they have moved the sport forward.

Men's tennis has three G.O.A.T.s and at this stage to pick one above another would be churlish.

FEDERER: ELDER STATESMAN, STILL LEADING THE RACE

From his Roland Garros debut in 1999 to a semi-final run at the Australian Open this year, the longevity of Federer has been almost as astonishing as some of his easy-on-the-eye tennis.

The list of records he has racked up is bewildering, beginning with his unmatched 20 men's slam singles titles. The Swiss was the first man to go beyond Sampras, and in the men's game he is the only player to win three slams in the same season three times (2004, 2006, 2007), make 10 successful title defences, and win more than 100 matches at two different grand slams - Wimbledon and the Australian Open.

He has reached an unsurpassed 31 slam singles finals (Nadal - 27, Djokovic - 26), and a mind-boggling 46 semi-finals at the four majors. Between the 2004 French Open, where he lost in the first round, and the 2010 edition at Roland Garros, where he fell in the quarters, Federer marched to the semi-final or further at 23 successive majors, winning 14 titles in that time.

Reaching seven or more finals in any grand slam is a superlative feat, but Federer has achieved that in three of the four majors (Wimbledon - 12, US Open - 7, Australian Open - 7), and twice won five consecutive titles at individual majors (Wimbledon 2003-07, US Open 2004-08).

And that is just scratching the surface.

He has spent the most weeks at world number one (310) and the most consecutively so (237), and sits third on the ATP list for the most aces in a career (11,344), behind only the towering duo of one-trick wonders Ivo Karlovic and John Isner.

NADAL: ONCE THE YOUNG UPSTART, FOR WHOM TWENTY WON'T BE PLENTY

Nadal can almost claim to have equalled Federer's 10 successful title defences, after retaining his crown nine times at Roland Garros, while winning Wimbledon in 2008 and 2010, having had to miss the 2009 tournament through injury.

There are plenty of records the remarkable Spaniard can call his own though, beginning with his 12 French Open triumphs, the most titles won by a player in any of the four grand slam tournaments.

From 2005 to 2014, Nadal won at least one slam every season, the 10-year streak setting him apart from Federer and Djokovic who have never managed such consistency.

By securing Olympic singles gold in Beijing in 2008 and doubles at Rio in 2016, Nadal became the first man to claim the Games double on top of the career singles Grand Slam at all four majors.

The Mallorca native's win-loss percentage on tour is the highest in men's tennis, with 992 wins and 201 defeats amounting to an 83.2 per cent hit rate (Djokovic - 83.1, Bjorn Borg - 82.4, Federer - 82.1).

His 19 grand slams is not a record, of course, but another in Paris over the coming fortnight would take Nadal level with Federer.

DJOKOVIC: THE INTERLOPER WHO COULD OUTLAST THE DIAMOND DUO

Like Federer, Djokovic has reached eight or more semi-finals at each of the four majors, on his way to 17 slam titles. He was firm favourite for the US Open and an 18th slam earlier this month until being disqualified for carelessly hitting a ball that struck a linesperson.

Many expect Djokovic to pass both Nadal and Federer and nudge to 21, 22 slams, maybe higher still, yet the 33-year-old may find that a tall order as the likes of Dominic Thiem break through.

On and off the court, there have been moments to regret this year for Djokovic, but his career stands up to the best, and in many aspects he leaves Federer and Nadal standing.

The Serbian is the only player in tennis to have won all four majors, the end-of-year ATP Finals and each of the nine highly-prized Masters 1000 tournaments.

With his run of triumphs from Wimbledon in 2015 to the French Open in 2016, Djokovic became the first man to hold all four grand slam singles titles at the same time since Rod Laver in 1969 achieved a calendar clean sweep.

Nobody has won as many Masters 1000 titles in a career (Djokovic - 36, Nadal - 35, Federer - 28), or reached as many ATP finals in a season as Djokovic's 15 in 2015, when he won 11 tournaments.

Again, scratching the surface. Djokovic's records run to page after page, his place in the pantheon assured.

To think, he was once the interloper on the celebrated Nadal-Federer rivalry. Now he has a chance to outstrip both in the numbers game.

TOGETHER: DOMINANCE LIKE TENNIS HAS NEVER KNOWN BEFORE

Federer won his first major at Wimbledon in 2003, and taking in that and the grand slams that have come since, the combination of Basel's favourite son, Spanish superstar Nadal and Belgrade favourite Djokovic have scooped 56 of 68 singles titles.

Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, with three titles each, are the only two other men to win more than one slam during that 17-year span. Barely anyone else had a look-in.

Such dominance is without equal in tennis.

To take previous eras as comparison points, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors won all their grand slams between the 1974 Australian Open and the 1984 US Open, collectively gathering 26 titles across those 44 tournaments. Sensational, and it remains important to make that point, but the haul has been blown out of the water by the modern-day Big Three.

Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg were the next generation and scooped 20 slams (Lendl - 8, Becker - 6, Edberg - 6) from a 48-tournament stretch beginning at the 1984 French Open and running through to the 1996 Australian Open.

The mighty American triumvirate of Sampras, Andre Agassi and Jim Courier together earned 26 majors (Sampras - 14, Agassi - 8, Courier - 4) from the 1990 US Open through to the 2003 Australian Open - a 50-slam span.

Agassi won in Australia in 2003, and Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero took the French Open title in the spring. Come the English summer, it was Federer's turn at the wheel for the first time, that first Wimbledon title signalling the dawning of a new era.

LEGACY: THESE RECORDS COULD STAND THE TEST OF TIME

As the sun begins to slowly descend, with Federer now 39 years old and Nadal and Djokovic well into their mid-thirties, the famous wins in Melbourne, Paris, London and New York will become fewer, and soon they will belong to memory.

Another great generation will rise; perhaps not for some years to come, but doubtless they will rise.

Yet asking them to scale the winning heights of the Federer-Nadal-Djokovic triad might be another matter entirely.

Remember Roger Federer's first grand slam title, or Rafael Nadal's major debut?

Both came at Wimbledon in 2003, which is the last time – before this year's US Open – when the quarter-finals of a grand slam did not feature a previous male major champion.

With Federer and Nadal absent in New York, Novak Djokovic stunningly defaulted after hitting a linesperson with a ball in his last-16 clash with Pablo Carreno Busta.

There will be a maiden male grand slam winner for the first time since 2014, when Marin Cilic claimed the title at Flushing Meadows.

While the quarter-finals are set to be packed with talented youngsters, we take a look back at what that tournament at Wimbledon in 2003 looked like.

Hewitt, Agassi fall early

The defending champion and top seed, Lleyton Hewitt was stunned in the opening round at the All England Club.

The Australian fell to Croatian Ivo Karlovic 1-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 6-4 in a huge upset.

Hewitt had won the second of his two grand slams the previous year, but was shocked by the big-serving Karlovic to become just the second defending champion to bow out in the first round of the tournament.

"The first, I was completely – I mean, I was scared," Karlovic said afterwards. "After I saw that I can beat him, I start to play more better."

An eight-time grand slam winner whose last success had come at the Australian Open in 2003, Agassi made the fourth round before being edged by Mark Philippoussis 6-3 2-6 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-4.

Philippoussis would go on to reach his second grand slam final, but fell short against a 21-year-old Federer.

The other previous major winners in the draw were Juan Carlos Ferrero, who had just won the French Open, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Gustavo Kuerten.

Ferrero lost to Sebastien Grosjean in the fourth round, Kuerten departed in the second and Kafelnikov in a five-set loss to Raemon Sluiter in the first.

Federer takes his chance as Nadal makes debut

Federer was already the fourth seed heading into Wimbledon, and 2003 would mark the beginning of an era of success.

The Swiss had reached the quarter-finals two years prior, his reputation enhanced by an incredible five-set win over Pete Sampras.

But 2003 was comfortable for Federer, easing into the last eight before wins over Sjeng Schalken, Andy Roddick and Philippoussis.

Philippoussis had gone through five-setters against Agassi and Alexander Popp before beating Grosjean in the semis.

Grosjean had ended Tim Henman's latest home bid in the quarters, while Roddick had cruised past Jonas Bjorkman before falling to Federer.

Federer would win five straight Wimbledon titles and a record eight, while his 20 overall is also the most of men.

The man who would become one of his great rivals, Nadal, made his debut at a grand slam.

The 17-year-old Nadal beat Mario Ancic and Lee Childs before losing to Paradorn Srichaphan. The first of Nadal's 12 French Open titles came two years later, while his Wimbledon successes have come in 2008 and 2010.

Novak Djokovic faced opposition from his two greatest on-court rivals, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, as the Serbian pushed for a breakaway tennis players' union.

World number one Djokovic, who has been president of the ATP player council since 2016, has teamed up with Canadian player Vasek Pospisil to push for the move.

Players reportedly received a letter on Friday inviting them to join the new Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA).

Djokovic has said he believes the PTPA and the current ATP Tour, which runs the men's top-level tournaments, can work together in the future.

The 17-time grand slam champion wants the union to be entirely independent of the ATP.

Nadal and Federer, however, say now is not the time for such a move that could create divisions in tennis.

"The world is living a difficult and complicated situation," Nadal wrote on Twitter.

"I personally believe these are times to be calm and work all of us together in the same direction. It is time for unity, not for separation.

"These are moments where big things can be achieved as long as the world of tennis is united. We all, players, tournaments and governing bodies have to work together. We have a bigger problem and separation and disunion is definitely not the solution."

Federer added: "I agree @RafaelNadal. These are uncertain and challenging times, but I believe it's critical for us to stand united as players, and as a sport, to pave the best way forward."

Federer – a 20-time grand slam champion – and Nadal are sitting out the US Open, which begins on Monday in New York.

Swiss superstar Federer is recovering from knee surgery and 19-time major winner Nadal elected not to play, being wary of international travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

Andy Murray, who for years formed part of a 'Big Four' with Djokovic, Federer and Nadal, expressed a cautious view, saying it was too soon to commit to such a major step for the sport.

"I won't be signing it today," Murray said, according to the Guardian.

"I'm not totally against a player union, or players' association, but right now there's a couple of things: one is I feel like the current management should be given some time to implement their vision. Whether that works out or not would potentially influence me in the future as to which way I would go.

"Also, the fact that the women aren't part of [the new plans]. I feel like that would send a significantly much more powerful message, if the WTA were on board as well. That's not currently the case. If those things changed in the future, it's something that I would certainly consider."

Last time it was down to the work of Ivo Heuberger. This time it is because of the coronavirus pandemic and the management of a veteran body that has ruled over tennis for two decades.

The 2020 US Open will represent the first time in 21 years that a grand slam has taken place without either Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal being there to contest the men's singles crown.

Not since Heuberger, a Swiss journeyman who reached a high of 102 in the world rankings during a nine-year career, defeated an 18-year-old Federer in qualifying for the 1999 US Open has one of the sport's majors been shorn of the two all-time greats from the modern era.

It was only Federer's fourth appearance at a grand slam – in qualifying or the main draw – and it took place two years before Nadal even turned professional.

The duo have since firmly established themselves at the top of the list for all-time major title wins. Federer has 20, Nadal has 19 – that is almost half of all the grand slams have taken place since the 1999 US Open.

What tennis looked like then

Pete Sampras had returned to the top of the world rankings for a 10th time by bouncing back from the disappointment of a second-round exit at Roland Garros – a tournament he skipped the Australian Open to focus on – by racking up a 24-match winning streak that included successive titles at Queen's, Wimbledon, Los Angeles and Cincinnati.

He looked primed to tie Jimmy Connors' record of five US Open titles and surpass Roy Emerson's total of 12 major triumphs, but a back injury sustained during practice ahead of the tournament forced him to withdraw.

Sampras' frustration at the French Open was added to by the fact Andre Agassi took home the Coupe des Mousquetaires, meaning he completed the career Grand Slam ahead of his American rival.

What happened at the US Open?

Agassi took full advantage of the fact Sampras was unable to compete, sealing his fifth grand slam title by coming from two-sets-to-one down in the final for a 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 6-2 victory against seventh seed Todd Martin.

It was a fairly serene path to the showpiece for Agassi, who only dropped one set to Jimmy Gimelstob en route to a semi-final against two-time major champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

Agassi overcame a shaky start to defeat the Russian 1-6 6-3 6-3 6-3 and secure a return to the top of the rankings, having sunk to 141 less than two years prior.

He held onto that position for the remainder of 1999 as Sampras' run of six straight year-end number ones came to an end.

What were Federer and Nadal up to?

After turning pro in 1998, Federer flitted between the ATP Tour and the Challenge Tour the following year. By the time it came to US Open qualifying he had a 6-12 record in top-level events and had lost in the first round at the French Open and Wimbledon – his first grand slam appearances.

Nadal was just 13 years old. He had already enjoyed some success in his age group but was splitting his time between tennis and playing football – his uncle Miguel Angel Nadal was a professional footballer and had just returned to Real Mallorca following a successful stint at Barcelona.

What does it mean for the future?

Unfortunately, grand slams without both Federer and Nadal are likely to be a fixture of the not-too-distant future.

Federer underwent a knee operation during the coronavirus pandemic and, now 39, is only looking towards the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year – what lies beyond that is unclear.

Nadal opted against travelling to New York due to coronavirus concerns but he should have enough gas in his tank to challenge for more major titles and, alongside Novak Djokovic, put pressure on Federer's record haul.

There is still plenty of young talent in Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Matteo Berrettini, and they may well soon come to the fore in the biggest tournaments.

Roger Federer has been urged by his boyhood idol and former coach Stefan Edberg to avoid a drawn-out farewell to tennis.

Swedish great Edberg announced in December 1995 that he would be retiring at the end of the following season, but he regrets the way he bowed out.

He endured a sticky 1996 campaign and is convinced his mind became muddled because there was so much discussion of his departure from the sport.

The former Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open champion - who won each of those grand slams twice - revealed he and Federer have spoken about how best to walk away.

At the age of 39, Federer is sitting out the rest of the 2020 season after knee surgery but looks set to return in 2021, even if tennis continues to be played behind closed doors.

The 20-time grand slam winner may elect to depart after one of his favourite tournaments and Edberg says the Swiss should make a sharp exit, rather than repeat his own mistake.

Edberg told The Tennis Podcast: "We actually talked a little bit about it and I would not recommend it to anybody actually, even if it's a nice thing to do, because it does put too much pressure on yourself and there will be too many things going on in your mind.

"So, if you're going to announce it, I would do it just before my last tournament…or have it in my mind but not for anybody else to know."

Edberg was feted from tournament to tournament in his final year and he failed to win a title, going closest when he reached the Queen's Club final.

He said: "It’s just very tough to handle but at the same time, it was a memorable year. But, I would not recommend it."

Tennis had a rotten lockdown but now the professional tours are emerging from hibernation. 

The men must wait a fortnight, but in Sicily a number of leading women will, from Monday, take part in the Palermo Open, a minor clay-court event that will face scrutiny like it has never known before. 

Tennis must prove it can stage events responsibly, not least because the sport's reputation took a hit with the calamitous ad hoc Adria Tour. That event saw stars including men's world number one Novak Djokovic, whose brainchild it was, and Grigor Dimitrov hit by coronavirus. 

The ATP and the WTA, governing bodies of the men's and women's tours respectively, will apply stringent rules and demand impeccable player compliance over the coming months. 

They have already seen tennis wiped out in China for the rest of the year, on top of Wimbledon's cancellation, and can ill afford any further momentous setbacks. 

At the end of August, the US Open is due to begin at Flushing Meadows, a behind-closed-doors grand slam.

But with a number of leading players already opting out or showing reluctance to travel during the pandemic period, it would be easier to return a barrage of John Isner serves than to accurately figure how the rest of the tennis year pans out. 

Sicily for starters

Palermo organisers expected Simona Halep, the world number two and reigning Wimbledon champion, to join them, and it was with "great bitterness" that they acknowledged the news she would be staying at home in Romania. 

Halep cited rising COVID-19 cases in her home country and her own "anxieties around international air travel". 

Jelena Ostapenko, Johanna Konta and Svetlana Kuznetsova were among others to pull out, with a number of factors behind the loss of a host of the event's star attractions. 

Arguably, though, the standard of the tennis in the week ahead will pale into insignificance against the success of the tournament from a health and safety perspective. 

One player tested positive for coronavirus after arriving in Palermo, organisers said on Saturday, and was kept away from all others, withdrawing from the tournament. 

The eyes of the tennis world will focus on the modest ASD Country Time Club, not least because a small number of tennis fans will also be allowed entry. 

American trilogy

Can the United States, where over 150,000 have died with coronavirus, provide safe haven for the biggest stars in tennis later this month? 

Authorities are optimistic ahead of a disrupted US hard-court swing getting under way, but there can be no guarantees, despite best efforts. There are three major tournaments in the US in August, each brimming with the biggest names in the game. 

A new WTA event in Kentucky was announced in mid-July, and starts on August 10, with a field boasting Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens and Coco Gauff.  

From Kentucky, the best women's players in the world will head to New York for the Western and Southern Open, relocated to Flushing Meadows from Cincinnati this year in a move to save the tournament. 

That event, scheduled to run from August 21 to 28, is where the elite men make their re-entrance, with no ATP events scheduled until then. 

And the following week sees the US Open get under way at the same venue - all being well. 

Players will be expected to keep to their tournament bubbles throughout, tests will be carried out and players closely monitored. Any slip-ups could spell peril. 

Who's coming back? Who's not?

Halep is skipping Palermo and as of Sunday, August 2, she was not listed for the Western and Southern Open; however, she may play an event in Prague, starting on August 10. 

Given Halep's clear travel concerns, it would be little surprise were she to skip the US Open, which is a decision world number one Ash Barty has already taken. Barty's fellow Australian, Nick Kyrgios, has also chosen not to travel to the United States. 

Great Britain's Andy Murray, who appears keen to head to the States, has suggested a number of leading male players will swerve the US tournaments, yet the likes of Rafael Nadal, Djokovic and Dominic Thiem have entered the Western and Southern Open. 

Any of those players could still pull out, Nadal having notably expressed misgivings about international travel during lockdown. 

But will the temptation to go after another grand slam title at the US Open prove too alluring? Nadal is just one behind Roger Federer's record haul of 20 men's singles slams, with Djokovic having 17 majors to his name. 

Federer is sitting out all this drama, having undergone season-ending knee surgery. 

It comes as no surprise to see Serena Williams, one short of Margaret Court's women's record of 24 singles slams, committing fully to the weeks ahead. 

With no Barty and perhaps no Halep, Williams, who turns 39 next month, may perhaps never have a better opportunity to draw level with Court.

Wimbledon should have been getting under way on Monday and the queue would have been building all weekend long, a tented village of flag-waving, gin-swigging tennis diehards doing whatever it takes to land a prized ticket.

The practice courts would have been bustling, news conferences with the world's elite players running all day Saturday and into Sunday, and the first bumper delivery of fresh strawberries would have arrived fresh from the fields of Kent.

Elite athletes and their entourages would have been milling around the grounds, before at 10.30am on Monday morning the paying spectators would have been released from their holding bay, many racing straight to the grass bank that is officially named Aorangi Terrace but better known as Henman Hill.

And at 11.30am, the first players would have been walking on court, the championships getting under way. To be there at such a time is a delicious thrill, the waiting over, the grounds teeming, the first points being played, and the anticipation escalating as to what might unfold over the next fortnight.

Yet this year Wimbledon was all quiet across the weekend; thousands did not queue for tickets; the line painters, the stewards, and the ball boys and ball girls stayed at home; and a whole lot more strawberry jam is being produced in England this year than last.

The 2020 championships were cancelled on April 1, the only reasonable decision available to the All England Club amid the coronavirus pandemic, but organisers are already preparing for next year's return.

And from the plot lines that are already emerging, it is clear we can expect a classic Wimbledon.

A farewell to great champions?

There is the very real prospect of tennis losing a huddle of its biggest stars practically all at once, with anyone that was considering bowing out this year surely now giving the glad eye to 2021.

Roger Federer will be just weeks short of his 40th birthday by next year's Wimbledon, and the same applies to Serena Williams, whose sister Venus will already be 41.

Andy Murray will be a relatively young 34 but his body has taken a battering, the Scot desperate to play more grand slams but also realistic enough to know there may not be many left for him. He longs for another Wimbledon, maybe just one more.

Between them, that quartet have won 22 Wimbledon singles titles, and all four could choose the 2021 tournament as their opportunity to bid farewell to the All England Club.

It's going to be an emotional tournament in any case, if we are back to normal, but if there are goodbyes to be said too, the championships promise to be one packed with indelible memories, and so many tears.

The magic numbers

Serena Williams has lost each of the past two Wimbledon women's finals and has been stuck on 23 grand slams since winning the 2017 Australian Open, agonisingly one short of Margaret Court's record.

Could Wimbledon be where Williams matches or even passes Court's total? The American remains the player to beat at Wimbledon, and her hunger for grand slam success has not remotely diminished over time.

There can be little doubt she is playing not purely for the love of it, but because of the thrill of the chase, and Williams might wind up disappointed at the end of her career, still marooned one adrift.

But what a story it would be if Williams were to win another Wimbledon, the last of her thirties. Don't put anything past her.

And the race to finish as the all-time leader on the men's side keeps rolling, a devil of a duty to predict who will come out on top between Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

Another Wimbledon win for any of them could take on momentous significance in that respect.

A new men's Centre Court king, at last?

The last player to win the Wimbledon's men's singles, besides the 'Big Four' of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray, was Lleyton Hewitt in 2002.

And while the era of those four great players dominating in SW19 has been one to treasure, seeing a new champion crowned would be rather special.

There have been nine winners of the women's singles over the same period of time, multiple champions among them but also terrific one-off stories such as Marion Bartoli's triumph, the 17-year-old Maria Sharapova's big breakthrough, Amelie Mauresmo's great achievement, and the unbridled joy of Simona Halep last year.

Certainly there is so much to admire about the quartet that have ruled the men's singles, but a little novelty feels overdue.

Those queueing up to form a new dominant group need to push themselves forward, rather than play a waiting game.

Gauff gunning for major breakthrough

Gauff gunning for major breakthrough

What a revelation Coco Gauff became last year, defeating her great hero Venus Williams and reaching the fourth round, where it took eventual champion Halep to halt the 15-year-old's run.

She dramatically followed up by reaching the third round of the US Open and then round four of the Australian Open at the start of this year.

Between those two grand slams, Gauff also landed her first WTA title, in Linz, Austria, where she became the youngest winner on tour for 15 years.

The American teenager is the real deal, that much is clear, and she has a bright future.

Gauff demonstrated wisdom beyond her years off the court in early June with a terrific, powerful address at a Black Lives Matter rally in her Florida home town of Delray Beach.

May she return many times to Wimbledon.

Roger Federer has been urged to quit tennis by Novak Djokovic's father, who claims his son and Rafael Nadal are destined to topple the Swiss on the all-time list of male grand slam winners.

The bold comments from Srdan Djokovic came as he spoke to Serbian broadcaster Sport Klub, in a week where Novak Djokovic described Federer as "possibly the greatest tennis player in history".

It remains to be seen which of the men's tennis 'big three' finish with the most grand slam singles titles, but 38-year-old Federer leads the way with 20 at present.

That puts him one ahead of Nadal and three clear of Djokovic at the top of the list, with the coronavirus interruption to this season having seen Wimbledon cancelled.

Federer is taking the rest of the year off after undergoing knee surgery, which rules him out of the US Open and the French Open, with both tournaments still hoping to go ahead in 2020, the latter having been delayed from its scheduled May start.

Srdan Djokovic has suggested the eight-time Wimbledon champion, who turns 39 in August, takes a permanent break from the tour.

"Why do you think he is still playing at 40?" said Srdan Djokovic.

"Imagine that, a 40-year-old man still playing tennis, when he could go home and do some more interesting things.

"But since both Nadal and Novak are breathing down his neck, he simply cannot accept the fact that they will be better than him. Go man, raise children, do something else, go and ski, do something."

According to his father, Novak Djokovic, at 33, has "another two, maybe three years" left in tennis.

"After that, he will be as successful as he was successful in tennis," said Srdan Djokovic.

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