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Rafael Nadal names Roger Federer as his biggest rival, Novak Djokovic & Dominic Thiem pick Nadal

Roger Federer (L) and Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon 2019
Roger Federer (L) and Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon 2019
Namit Kumar
ANALYST
Modified 22 Jan 2021
News

The top men's tennis players in the world were recently asked by ATP to name their biggest rival on the tour. And Rafael Nadal didn't hesitate before naming the biggest icon of the sport - 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer.

Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem, on the other hand, both picked Nadal as their biggest rival.

Rafael Nadal has locked horns with Roger Federer a total of 40 times in total. The Spaniard has come out on top in 24 of those matches, making him one of the very few players to have a positive head-to-head record against Federer.

"I probably have to say Roger Federer," Nadal said. "When I started on the tour he was the best player in the world and since the beginning of my career we have been going together in the same direction."

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have played some truly memorable finals through the course of their careers. That includes the Wimbledon 2008 final (popularly considered one of the greatest tennis matches of all time), as well as the Australian Open finals in 2009 and 2017 - all of which were epic five-setters.

Rafael Nadal is my biggest rival on tour: Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic (L) and Rafael Nadal at the 2012 French Open
Novak Djokovic (L) and Rafael Nadal at the 2012 French Open
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When asked about his greatest rival on tour, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic promptly named Rafael Nadal.

Djokovic and Nadal have undoubtedly had the fiercest rivalry of the 2010s, crossing paths as many as 56 times in total. Djokovic narrowly edges the head-to-head with 29 wins as compared to Nadal's 27, giving him the unique distinction of having a winning head-to-head against both Nadal and Federer.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have played some historic matches over the last decade, including the final of the 2012 Australian Open - the longest Grand Slam final in recorded history. The pair also went the distance in nail-biting semifinal matches at Roland Garros 2013 and Wimbledon 2018.

Their recent encounters include Nadal's mauling of the Serb in the 2020 Roland Garros final, and Djokovic's impressive straight-sets win over the Spaniard in the 2020 ATP Cup final.

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Dominic Thiem also emerged as a popular pick among the players, as both Diego Schwartzman and Alexander Zverev named the Austrian as their biggest rival. When asked himself, Thiem named Rafael Nadal - his opponent in the 2018 and 2019 Roland Garros finals.

"I (have to) pick Rafa (Nadal)," Thiem said. "Because against Rafa and Sascha (Zverev) I have played so many important matches, late matches at the Slams, at the ATP Finals or at the Masters 1000s."
Published 22 Jan 2021, 15:24 IST
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