“It doesn’t get any better than that”, is one of the few things we can say when we’re watching Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal play against each other.
It’s simply tennis at its best. Two of the best players in the history of the sport going head to head, it’s nothing short of a delight for spectators.
These two have been involved in some of the best matches ever played but if we had to put a pin on just one, the 2008 Wimbledon final, arguably the greatest tennis match ever played, would be the one.
Oh what a game of tennis it was. It’s obvious that most of the “great” matches played by these two came in the Grand Slams but that’s not entirely true.
Federer and Nadal have competed against each other 40 times across all the competition and some of their best tennis was played in Non-Grand Slam matches. Let’s spread some light on these, shall we?
2004, Miami Masters
The first on the list will definitely have to be the first encounter between the two. Miami Masters 2004, many would say, this is where the rivalry between the two greatest players of our generation began.
Federer was coming off of a strong season, being ranked World number 1 after winning his first Wimbledon and his first Australian Open title. He was tied up against Nadal, a teenager, ranked 34 in the world. Everyone thought it’d be an easy win but Rafa Nadal thought otherwise.
Nadal beat Federer 6-3, 6-3 in a shock, straight sets and announced himself to the world with first glimpses of his never-say-die attitude on show here. This is where it all began.
2005, Rome Masters
The next epic encounter came just about a year later in the final of Internazionali BNL d’Italia with Nadal himself saying that it was an unforgettable match.
The match lasted a whopping five hours and Nadal had gone into the encounter having beaten Federer in another thrilling final at Monte Carlo and was determined to continue his dominance.
Federer, on the other hand wanted to hit back at Nadal and get back to winning ways against the Spaniard. In what turned out to be an absolutely jaw-dropping game of tennis, Nadal edged out Federer and came out on top, yet again.
Federer seemed to have control of the match initially but Nadal slowly grew into the encounter and eventually cemented another victory over Federer. He won 6-7(0), 7-6(5), 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(5) match.
2010, ATP Finals
Another one of the great matches produced by these two was in the 2010 ATP Tour Finals. Nadal was the top seed and Federer was second. It was the third time the two were meeting each other that particular year although it was their first ever match at the ATP Tour Finals.
Federer has always had an upper hand over Nadal when it came to indoor battles and he made that fact very clear by beating him in three sets 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, a match that lasted 1 hour and 37 minutes. Federer completed his unbeaten tournament and equalled the record of Pete Sampras and Evan Lendl by clinching his 5th title.
It’s only fair to say that theirs is the best rivalry the game of tennis has had. Federer with his masterclass, Nadal with his never say die attitude, produce the best tennis the world can witness.