Roger Federer said he would have been happy to lose or accept a draw after winning a classic Australian Open final against Rafael Nadal on Sunday.
Federer and Nadal rolled back the years to serve up a thrilling five-set showdown at Rod Laver Arena that swung one way and another before the legendary Swiss sealed a 6-4 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-3 victory.
The 35-year-old's record tally of grand slam titles now stands at 18 - five of which have been won in Melbourne - and his latest triumph was even more remarkable given he has not played a competitive tournament since Wimbledon last year after undergoing knee surgery.
Federer, who had not won a major since his Wimbledon success in 2012, was full of praise for his old foe after the Spaniard also overcame injury problems to defy the odds and come so close to winning a 15th grand slam title.
"I'm out of words, Rafa said so many great things but of course I'd like to also congratulate Rafa on an amazing comeback." Federer said during the presentation ceremony.
"I don't think either one of us thought we'd be in the final when we saw each other at your [Nadal's] academy four or five months ago and here we stand in the final. I'm happy for you, I would have been happy to lose too, to be honest.
"Tennis is a tough sport, there are no draws but if there was going to be one I'd be happy to accept a draw and share it with Rafa really.
"I know everybody says they were very hard, I did the same. I try not to shout about it because there are some serious legends and some of the toughest guys in the game - like in Rafa - here [in attendance].
"But I'd just like to thank my team because it's been a different last six months, I wasn't sure if I was going to make it here, but here I am and we made it, so I'd like to thank you guys.
"Rafa's team, you work so hard and deserve everything, but more. I wish you continued success this year and hopefully for many more years to come. Stay on the tour, keep playing, Rafa please, tennis needs you, thanks for everything you do."
Nadal, who led 3-1 in the final set, was magnanimous in defeat after the heartbreak of being second best in an epic contest that lasted three hours and 37 minutes.
He said: "Congratulations to Roger and all his team. It's amazing the way he's playing after being out of the tour for so long. For sure you've worked very hard to make that happen so I'm very happy for you.
"It's been an amazing month for me, I really enjoyed this beautiful country and fantastic people supporting me in every event I played, especially here in Melbourne.
"It will always be in my heart. It was a great match, probably Roger deserved it a little bit more than me.
"I am just going to keep trying, I feel I am back at a very high level so I am going to keep fighting during the whole season, to have a great season and come back here to try and get this beautiful trophy [the winners' Norman Brookes Challenge Cup]. This [the runners-up plate] is beautiful, but that is so much better."