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Federer vs Nadal: Top 5 Grand Slam matches between the LEGENDS

  • Federer and Nadal have played some epic encounters in their storied rivalry, and here's a look at the 5 best of them at the Slams.
Top 5 / Top 10
Modified 20 Dec 2019, 21:36 IST

Roger Federer (L) and Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer (L) and Rafael Nadal

In 2004, two of the greatest tennis players of all time faced each other on the tennis court for the first time. And we tennis fans can't thank God enough that they did, for it marked the beginning of the Golden Era of Tennis.

This was also the first page of a book which in years to come would become one of the greatest tennis rivalries in the history of tennis. Over the years, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have faced each other 38 times on the tour, with 12 of those meetings coming in Grand Slams.

Here, we take a look back in history and remember the best of those encounters.

5. 2011 French Open

Nadal and Federer at the 2011 French Open
Nadal and Federer at the 2011 French Open

Rafael Nadal d. Roger Federer 7-5 7-6(3) 5-7 6-1

Match Stats

Time Duration: 3 hrs 40 minutes

Points Won: 143-130 (Nadal)

Aces: 11-4 (Federer)


Winners: 51-37 (Federer)

Unforced Errors: 37-55 (Nadal)


2011 was the year of the other member of the Big 3 i.e. Novak Djokovic. Djokovic had won the Australian Open in January and was on a 37-match win streak before the Roland Garros tournament.

Nadal was also just about at his prime, winning 3 Grand Slams in the previous year. Federer, meanwhile, hadn't reached a Grand Slam final since the 2010 Australian Open.

The tournament started with John Isner giving Nadal a scare in the first round; he had to fight 5 sets to go past the big-serving American, which was completely unexpected on the slow clay of Roland Garros. But Nadal soon hit his stride, defeating Robin Soderling in the quarters and Andy Murray in the Semis.

Federer didn't drop a single set until his semifinal match where he faced Djokovic. Very few people gave Federer a chance considering the Serb's amazing run, and also because the surface suited Djokovic's style more than Federer's.

But the Swiss Maestro surprised everyone by defeating Novak with one of his best performance on clay.

The match:

As the match began Roger held his serve and broke Nadal's right after that. One more easy hold of serve and the 2009 champion was 3-0 up.

In the 4th game, Nadal held his serve to start his account. A few games later Roger was 5-2 up and was just a game away from taking the first set. Nadal was serving to stay in the set, and with some fabulous winners Federer had a set point. The Swiss-built the point beautifully but his backhand drop landed just missed the line, by a centimeter.

From there, Nadal turned things around completely to win 5 games in a row and grab the set.

Nadal continued his form in the second set, breaking Fed's serve in the first game. Nadal held his serve to go 2-0 up, but Federer ended Rafa's 7 game streak with a few powerful aces.

In the fourth game Rafa had 2 more break points to go two breaks up, but Roger saved those with two aces in a row and held his serve.

In the 8th game Roger broke back to level the set at 4-4. But in the next game Rafa broke Roger's serve again and was serving at a set point up. The Swiss then saved a couple of set points to level the set again, only to lose it in the tiebreak.

In the third Federer did to Nadal what Nadal did to him in the first set. The Spaniard was serving at 4-2 and that's when Roger broke back and went on to win the set 7-5.

In the first game of the fourth set, Federer had 3 break consecutive break points but the 5 time champion saved all of those. Federer won the next game and that was the last game he won in that match.

Soon, Nadal was lifting his 6th Roland Garros trophy. This was the last time Roger reached the French Open final.

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Published 20 Feb 2019, 20:37 IST
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