No other pair in the Men’s tennis has ever dominated the world as that of Federer and Nadal. They took the world by storm right from the start, and continue to do the same . Their matches are the most anticipated ones on the circuit, so can be seen by the fact that their 2017 Australian Open final was the most watched tennis match ever. All of their matches have been high-voltage clashes which have often been much closer than what the score lines suggest. The 2008 Wimbledon Championships final between the two stalwarts is often regarded as the best match of tennis ever by a majority of the tennis loving audience.
Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal: The biggest rivalry in the game?
Ask anyone as to which 2 rivalries are amongst the best and they are sure to mention Federer and Nadal’s rivalry, popularly known as FeDal, as one of them. Their rivalry is arguably the best rivalry of the Open Era. With both of them dominating the tennis world in their own way, one wouldn’t have been who they are without each other. They have helped each other grow and improve so much so that there came a time when only these two could find the loopholes, if any, in the other’s game and exploit it.
The two of them together hold a vast majority of the records that there are, which include the most famous records of winning the most number of slams (18) by Federer and winning the most number of titles at the same tournament (9) by Nadal at Roland Garros.
This rivalry was born in March 2004, right at the same venue where they face each other for the 37th time tonight. Rafael Nadal, just 17 and fresh on the tour, took the court against an already established name on the tennis circuit, Roger Federer. It was their first ever meeting and the newcomer shocked everyone by defeating the then World No.1 in straight sets, in the 3rd round. Looking back at the match, Nadal now says, “I went on court, with nothing to lose. A lot of motivation to play against, I think, No 1 already.”
With that, began the rivalry that went on to become one the best rivalries that the world of tennis would ever see. In the next year, they met at the same venue, but this time in the finals, where Federer overcame from 2 sets down to win the title. Their first match on clay came two months later in the semi final stage of the Roland Garros where Nadal outdid Federer in 4 sets and went on to win his maiden title.
By now, everybody knew that this is not any other rivalry that there has been on tour — this is something special. Federer and Nadal proved the world right in the very early stages of their rivalry. In the next three years, 2006, 2007, and 2008, they met in 15 matches, 6, 5, and 4 matches respectively, including the finals of both, Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Nadal won 10 of these matches, including the French Open finals of ’06, ’07, and ’08 along with the Wimbledon ’08 finals, and broke Federer’s 65 match winning streak on grass. Federer won the Wimbledon ’06 and ’07 finals along with their match at the Hamburg Masters where he broke Nadal’s 81 match winning streak on clay.
They have won 26 of the 32 Grand Slams from 2003 Wimbledon Championship to 2011 French Open, and 22 of 25 from 2005 French Open to 2011 French Open. This alone speaks volumes about how they ruled the world for years.
They dominated the circuit till the end of 2010, ending all the years from 2005 to 2010 as the Top 2 in the world, which in itself is a record. They shared the Top 2 positions in the world ranking for a record 211 consecutive weeks from July 2005 to August 2009. They continue to be the players to look for even now but they have some company up there at the top, including their nemesis and one of the most successful players of the current times, Novak Djokovic.
Miami Open 2017: A grand finale
They will meet for the 37th time in their career at the Miami Open Finals, their 23rd final match so far. Federer would enter the match more exhausted than Nadal owing to the 2 back-to-back 3 setters that he has played, including the 3-hour match against Nick Kyrgios which stretched to tie-breaks in all the sets. Federer has played 7 tie-breaks, losing just one, in the 12 sets that he has played so far while Nadal has played just 1.
They have played 3 matches at the venue as yet, with Nadal leading the tally with 2-1. It is his 5th final at the event; he has lost all the finals prior to this and hopes to finally convert it into a title win.
Their games are just the opposite of each other. On one side, Federer is a calm, passive and graceful player, and on the other is Nadal, playing so aggressively that he has been awarded the nickname The Bull due to his fierceness on court game play. As opposed to Nadal’s fiery topspin forehand, Federer has a more flat forehand. Federer targets his opponent using his serve a lot of times but Nadal often relies on his defensive, strong and tiring for the opponent ground stroke game. The differences in their games make their matches even better. To see such a contrast in a single match is just what appeals to the audience, making the rivalry even special.
On many occasions, they have been found appreciating the presence of the other in the game and how it has positively affected their game. They have accepted more times than to remember as to how the other has helped them grow, find the loopholes in their own game which previously went unnoticed, and become what they are, today. The respect and admiration that they have for each other is something that was previously unprecedented in the game. They realize the importance of their other, and try to increase it on any given occasion. Federer would not be who he is today without Nadal and so is the case with Nadal. Without each other, their success would not have been one bit different from what it is today but the world would not have noticed their significance to the magnitude that they do today.
Their respective fanbases have often argued on who is the better amongst them, each including their idol’s records to outdo the other but Federer and Nadal stay as far from this as possible and when asked to answer the question, they always give a neutral answer as they know that both of them are above this. They often tell the world to not indulge in such debates and to enjoy what is left of their rivalry.
No matter what round they face each other in, they always deliver a match to remember. All of their matches are looked forward to, especially the finals.
The 37th chapter of their story is a much awaited one. Will Nadal finally win the Miami title, which has eluded him for a very long time? Or will Federer win it once again, and increase his winning streak against Nadal to 4?
Irrespective of the result, a classic is sure to be delivered today.