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Mutua Madrid Open - where Federer did the impossible in 2009

4 times Roger Federer easily defeated Rafael Nadal

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have squared off 40 times thus far, with the Spaniard leading the head-to-head 24-16. Some of the contests between the two stalwarts of tennis have been even, others epic, and a few unbelievably one-sided.

Nadal has been dominant on clay, winning 14 of the 16 matches the two have contested. Federer, meanwhile, has made merry on grass, getting the better of the Spaniard in three of the four encounters on the Swiss legend's favorite surface.


In this article, we go back in time to four encounters in which Roger Federer dominated his long-time rival and came out on top in majestic fashion.

#4 Shanghai Masters final, 2017

The Swiss star outclassed his rival several times throughout the 2017 season

Federer's backhand was lethal and on-target as the final began in the Chinese metropolis. His booming first serves whizzed past Nadal's outstretched racket and the Swiss clinched the opening set with ease.

A composed Federer looked increasingly in command as the match progressed while Nadal was forever playing catch-up.


Despite flashes of brilliance from the tiring Spaniard, there was little he could do to prevent his great rival from clinching his 94th title.

Result: Roger Federer won 6-4, 6-3

#3 Miami Masters final, 2017


After beating Nadal three times in a row, Federer took on his old adversary in Miami. The pressure was immediately on the Spaniard in what was a repeat of the Australian Open final, as Federer raced away to claim the first set.

The sublime form continued in the second set as Nadal had no answer to the powerful winners that Federer seemed to manufacture at will.

It was a match in which Nadal clearly looked second best as the Swiss star completed the Sunshine Double, winning the Miami crown after having emerged victorious at the Indian Wells open.

Result: Roger Federer won 6-3, 6-4


#2 Tennis Masters Cup semifinal, 2007

Roger Federer in action in the semifinals of the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai in 2009

An impeccable crosscout forehand from Nadal seemed to set the stage for a classic contest and, indeed, Federer was made to work hard as the Spaniard unleashed some incredible shots which had spectators on the edge of their seats.

Even so, it was Federer who broke Nadal's serve to take the first set and continued to find moments of inspiration in the second. An early break of serve in the second set gave Federer the edge and there was no looking back as Nadal double faulted to gift his opponent a 4-0 lead.

The World No. 1 exhibited ruthless precision to wrap up the remainder of the one-sided set with ease and book a place in the final, where he beat David Ferrer.

Result: Roger Federer won 6-4, 6-1


#1 Madrid Masters final, 2009

In the 20th meeting between the top two players at the time, it was Nadal who began as the overwhelming favorite on clay in his home country.

Much to the disappointment of the crowd, it was Federer who ran away with the opening set. Nadal looked a bit out of sorts after getting the better of Novak Djokovic in a closely-fought semifinal.

Federer became increasingly aggressive in the second set. Despite Nadal attempting to pump himself up with the odd sublime winner, the Swiss champion looked in complete control and ended the contest with a booming ace.

Federer achieved a remarkable feat by sinking Nadal in his own backyard on a surface that the Spaniard was considered unbeatable.

Result: Roger Federer won 6-4, 6-4


Honorable mention:

Arguably the most resounding victory the Swiss maestro has had over his Spanish rival came in the round-robin stage of the ATP World Tour Finals in 2011. The reason we decided to omit it from our list is down to the fact that Nadal was returning from a long hiatus and was clearly out of sorts on the day.

Nevertheless, Federer galloped to victory in just over an hour. After breaking the Spaniard in the first set, the Swiss never looked back. He went on to bagel Nadal in the second, winning 10 of the last 11 games of the match.

The victory was a much-needed shot in the arm for Federer, who had lost all three of his previous encounters with Nadal that year (Miami, Madrid and Roland Garros).

Result: Roger Federer won 6-3, 6-0

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Edited by
Nihal Taraporvala
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