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Roger Federer's 5 most significant rivalries in the last decade

Bhargav
Roger Federer won his 20th Grand Slam title at the 2018 Australian Open
Roger Federer won his 20th Grand Slam title at the 2018 Australian Open

During the course of an illustrious 22-year professional tennis career, Roger Federer has carved out an exemplary resume decorated with glorious records and achievements, some of which may perhaps stand the test of time.

Despite seeing his Grand Slam success rate expectedly dwindle in the 2010s decade compared to his haul in the 2000s, Federer still maintained a win-loss % north of 70% during the 2010s, winning 42 titles from 72 finals in the period.

Also read: Federer of the 2000s vs Federer of the 2010s

The 2010s decade saw Federer tussle with 155 different opponents, beating all of them bar Evgeny Donskoy (2017 Dubai 3R), Thanasi Kokkinakis (2018 Miami 2R) and Andrey Rublev (2019 Cincinnati 3R). He finished perfect against 141 different opponents in a list led by Philipp Kohlschreiber (10/10) and Roberto Bautista Agut (9/9).

Only the trio of Donskoy, Kokinakkis and Rublev along with Djokovic, Nadal, Thiem and Sascha Zverev managed a winning head-to-head record against Federer during the 2010s decade, with this group of six alone accounting for 42 of the Swiss maestro's 109 losses during this period.

On that note, let us have a look at five of Federer's most significant rivalries during the decade, in terms of matches played.


#T4 Juan Martin Del Potro: 17 matches

Federer congratulates Del Potro following the former's maiden Masters 1000 title at 2018 Indian Wells
Federer congratulates Del Potro following the former's maiden Masters 1000 title at 2018 Indian Wells

Federer and Juan Martin del Potro locked horns on 17 occasions during the decade that was 2010 to 2019, with the Swiss maestro winning 12 of those clashes. Before the start of this decade, Federer had clinched six wins against Del Potro and lost just two matches.

Three of Federer's defeats against the big Argentine during the 2010s came in the finals of 2012-13 Basel and 2018 Indian Wells, with Federer squandering three championship points on serve in the latter tournament. The two other defeats against the 2009 US Open winner came in a group-stage match at the 2012 ATP Finals and in the quarterfinals of the 2017 US Open.

The 2018 Indian Wells final is the duo's latest meeting on tour.

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#T4 Tomas Berdych: 17 matches

Federer and Berdych at the 2017 Laver Cup in Prague
Federer and Berdych at the 2017 Laver Cup in Prague

Like against Del Potro, Federer also played 17 matches with Tomas Berdych during the 2010s decade, winning 12 of those matches. Federer was 8-1 against the Czech in the 2000s decade.

Berdych won three of his first four matches with Federer during the 2010s before going 2/13, which included a run of nine straight losses. The recently retired 2010 Wimbledon finalist became one of just eight players to beat Federer multiple times at a Grand Slam when he got the better of the Swiss maestro in the quarterfinals at 2010 Wimbledon and 2012 US Open.

Federer's other losses to Berdych during the decade came in the Miami 2010 fourth round, Cincinnati 2011 quarterfinals and the Dubai 2013 semifinals, while winning 2012 Madrid and 2014 Dubai at the expense of the Czech player. In the pair's last meeting, Federer won in straight sets in the 2018 Australian Open quarterfinals.

#3 Rafael Nadal: 18 matches

Federer greets Nadal at the net after beating the Spaniard to reach the 2019 Wimbledon final
Federer greets Nadal at the net after beating the Spaniard to reach the 2019 Wimbledon final

One of only six players with a winning head-to-head record against Federer during the decade that was 2010 to 2019, Rafael Nadal's 11 wins against the Swiss maestro is the second-highest tally of defeats Federer endured against any player during this decade.

Federer significantly improved his head-to-head deficit with Nadal during this decade after going 7-13 in the previous decade. The 37-year-old recorded his first-ever run of five consecutive wins against Nadal (Nadal has two such runs against Federer).

The Swiss enjoyed his first victory over Nadal in a Grand Slam match in 11 years after overcoming a break deficit in the fifth set of the 2017 Australian Open final.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner went 5-2 in tournament finals against Nadal during this period, losing in the finals at 2011 Roland Garros and 2013 Rome while winning titles at ATP Finals (2010), Basel (2015), Australian Open (2017), Miami (2017) and Shanghai (2017) at the southpaw's expense.

In the pair's last meeting, Federer beat Nadal in a four-set semifinal at 2019 Wimbledon.

#2 Stan Wawrinka: 22 matches

Wawrinka (right)'s lone Masters 1000 title at 2014 Monte Carlo came at the expense of Federer
Wawrinka (right)'s lone Masters 1000 title at 2014 Monte Carlo came at the expense of Federer

Stan Wawrinka (22) is one of two players that Federer played over 20 times during the 2010s decade.

The more illustrious Swiss continued his dominating run against his good friend and compatriot, winning 20 of 22 games. Federer's only losses against Wawrinka came in the 2014 Monte Carlo Masters final and the 2015 Roland Garros quarterfinals.

Federer saved multiple match points in a rare ill-tempered match against his compatriot in the semifinals of the 2014 ATP Finals, which is the closest Wawrinka has come to beating Federer outside of clay. In the pair's last meeting, Federer beat Wawrinka in four sets in the 2019 Roland Garros quarterfinals.

#1 Novak Djokovic: 35 matches

Federer squandered match points in a defeat to Djokovic in the 2019 Wimbledon final
Federer squandered match points in a defeat to Djokovic in the 2019 Wimbledon final

Federer's 35 matches with Novak Djokovic during the 2010s decade is the most he has played any opponent. And the Swiss maestro's 22 defeats, 12 of them in tournament finals, is also the most he has lost to any player during this decade.

The defeats include missed match points in the 2010-11 US Open semifinals and in the 2019 Wimbledon final, where Djokovic became the first Wimbledon champion in 71 years after saving multiple championship matches.

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Federer has gone 3-12 in tournament finals against Djokovic during this period which include four losses (out of four) in Grand Slams, two losses (out of two) at the ATP Finals, four losses (out of six) at Masters 1000 tournaments and two losses (out of three) at ATP 500 tournaments.

The Swiss maestro ended a five-match losing streak against Djokovic spanning four years, by beating the Serb in straight sets in a winner-takes-all round-robin match at the 2019 ATP Finals.

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Edited by Musab Abid
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