RAFAEL NADAL became the fourth male tennis player to win 1,000 ATP Tour matches – and joined the exclusive club in the city where he has enjoyed so much success.
Spain’s superstar, 34, was made to work hard for it as he battled past compatriot Feliciano Lopez in the second round of the Masters 1000 event in Paris.
The top seed, who was a beaten finalist in 2007, eventually won 4-6 7-6 6-4 and will face Australian Jordan Thompson for a spot in the quarter-finals.
Nadal is aiming to win just his third indoor tournament of his career – to add to his record haul of 84 outdoor.
And is doing so in the French capital, where he has a staggering 13 Roland Garros crowns.
But the 20-time Grand Slam champ joked winning 1,000 matches – doing so in 1,201 attempts – makes him a pensioner in tennis.
He said: “This means that I am old.
“That means that I played well for such a very long time, because to achieve that number is because I have been playing well for a lot of years and that is something that makes me feel happy.
“I just can say thank you very much to all the people that helped me and all the people that in any moment of my life helped me to be where I am.
“I started the match in the worst way possible, especially against a big server like Felil.
“After that, I played under a lot of pressure the rest of the match, but I found a way. That’s the main thing.
“This victory is one that I am very proud of. The personal satisfaction sometimes is bigger when you win these matches than if you go on court and you win 6-3, 6-3.”
After posing for photographs on the court in Paris with a big ‘1,000’ sign, he then took to Instagram to share a 14-minute highlights reel of some of his most famous successes.
Nadal beat Ramon Delgado for victory No1 as a 15-year-old way back in 2002 and was stuck on 999 after beating Novak Djokovic in the French Open final last month.
But with the comeback win over Lopez, he now follows in the footsteps of great friend and rival Roger Federer in achieving the landmark milestone – just 48 hours after the Swiss great secured his 1,000th week ranked in the top 20.
Federer, out of action since a double knee surgery earlier in the year, has 1,242 wins but it is Jimmy Connors who leads the way on 1,274 victories between 1970 and 1995.
Ivan Lendl won 1,068 matches before hanging up his racket in 1994.