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Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal: The greatest sports rivalry of all time

CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
510   //    30 Jun 2018, 02:45 IST

Image result for federer and nadal
Federer and Nadal took the game of tennis to new heights

India vs Pakistan for Cricket, Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers for NBA, Peyton Manning vs Tom Brady for NFL, and Barcelona vs Real Madrid for Soccer are some of the most storied rivalries.

But, Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal, which is fondly referred to as "Fedal", is one of the longest, strongest and the greatest rivalry in all the sports.

Federer and Nadal took the game of tennis to new heights. Over the last 14 years, they have not only won many grand slam titles but they have also elevated each other's games to the next level.

Federer and Nadal will always be in the argument of Greatest of All Time, but for them its always about the game, the mutual respect and the newfound friendship for each other throughout the course of their careers.

Off their 12 meetings in Grand Slams Nadal leads Federer 9-3 while leading 6-3 in grand slam finals. From 2006 to 2008 Nadal and Federer played all the finals of the Roland Garros and the Wimbledon. That just shows how great this rivalry has been over the years.

With Wimbledon just days away, Federer and Nadal are both right at the top of the rankings. Despite Nadal holding the No. 1 rank, Wimbledon has named Federer the top seed over the Spaniard.

With these two holding the top seeds, the countdown for another Fedal final showdown has officially begun. As the kickoff for Wimbledon 2018 on July 2 approaching swiftly, let's look at the journey of this epic rivalry.

When Did It Start?

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Federer is cruising past everyone and started one of the longest World No.1 ranking streaks, Rafael Nadal, then only 17 years old and ranked 34, beat Federer in Miami Masters

Back in 2004, when Federer is cruising past everyone and started one of the longest World No.1 ranking streaks, Rafael Nadal, then only 17 years old and ranked 34, beat Federer in Miami Masters.

Federer though made sure he got his revenge and beat Nadal in 2005 Miami Masters in a 5-set final.

But, two months later they both faced once again in the semifinal of French Open, where Nadal beat Federer en route to his first Grand Slam title and start of one of the amazing rivalries in sports.

Since then Federer and Nadal played against each other 35 times and Nadal leads Federer overall with a 23-15 record.

Nadal, a clay court expert had a clear advantage over Federer in French Open, where he is 5-0 against Federer. Meanwhile, in Federer's mainstay of Wimbledon, these two have only faced thrice with Federer leading 2-1.

While Nadal leads Federer 3-1 in the Australian Open, surprisingly, these two have never faced each other in US Open to date.

Of those Grand Slam matches, the 2008 Wimbledon Final, where Nadal beat Federer in the longest final in Wimbledon history, which lasted for four hours and 46 minutes, stands out on top.

This match, often interrupted by rain, swung momentum both ways. After losing the first two sets to Nadal, Federer made an incredible comeback to win the next two sets. Federer would eventually lose the final set 7-9 while almost playing in the dark.

Of those Grand Slam matches, the 2008 Wimbledon Final, where Nadal beat Federer in the longest final in Wimbledon history, which lasted for four hours and 46 minutes, stands out on top.

This match, often interrupted by rain, swung momentum both ways. After losing the first two sets to Nadal, Federer made an incredible comeback to win the next two sets. Federer would eventually lose the final set 7-9 while almost playing in the dark.


Image result for 2009 australian open final

The next best of their matches came just a few months after the 2008 Wimbledon Final in 2009 Australian Open Final, which also lasted for almost four and half hours.

This final was one of the most competitive of their rivalry in the first four sets, but Nadal raced past Federer in the final set 6-2 to seal the victory.

This is one of the most emotional matches for Federer who broke down to tears during the final presentation when Nadal goes for a hug to console him, thus forging one of the budding and everlasting friendships.

Injuries and Down Time

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These two finished the calendar year in Top 2, they are the only pair to do so for six consecutive years

From 2005 to 2010, these two finished the calendar year in Top 2, they are the only pair to do so for six consecutive years, but, injuries started to pile on both the players. In 2013 Federer developed a back injury which kept him out of the game for the first few months.

2013 also marked the end of some of the remarkable records involving Federer, including 36 grand slam quarter-finals appearances, by losing in the second round of Wimbledon.

Federer's bad form and injury struggles continued as he entered in his mid-thirties. Since 2012 Wimbledon, Federer has not won a single grand slam title until 2017 Wimbledon.

While Federer was dealing with his own issues, Nadal stayed on top from 2012-2014 by extending his own record of French Open titles to nine and equaling Pete Sampras' Grand Slam wins of 14. But Injury bug bit Nadal after the French Open.

After recovering from the wrist injury Nadal couldn't get back to his old form by losing in the first round of the Qatar Open title defense in 2015 and losing in the quarterfinals of French Open to Novak Djokovic ending his 39 consecutive victories at Roland Garros. He also lost in the third round of 2015 US Open.

To start 2016, Nadal reinjured his wrist, forcing him out of French Open and Wimbledon. But, he would come back in time for the Rio Olympics to win his second gold medal. But Nadal couldn't roll over his victory into US Open, losing in the fourth round.

The Revival

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After a down period from 2012 to 2016, it is hard to imagine any player who is in their thirties to come back and win grand slam titles, but 2017 changed that norm

After a down period from 2012 to 2016, it is hard to imagine any player who is in their thirties to come back and win grand slam titles, but 2017 changed that norm. Both Federer and Nadal came back and won all the four Grand Slam titles among them.

Due to Injury effected 2016, Federer was ranked 17 to start the 2017 Australian Open. He defeated Top 10 players In Tom Berdych and Kei Nishikori to become the oldest player to play in the grand slam semi-finals.

He would eventually go on and create a lot of "oldest player to" records and defeated his old nemesis Nadal in the final to get back into Top 10 and extend his own record of the number of grand slam titles won.

Due to the injury concern, Federer decided to skip the entire clay court season. Meanwhile, Nadal, who flourishes in clay courts would end up winning the 2017 title by ending the three-year drought of grand slam titles.

Federer and Nadal would eventually win Wimbledon and US open respectively to complete their renaissance. Nadal would finish 2017 back on top of the rankings.

Federer opened the 2018 season by defending his Australian Open, his first title defense since the 2008 US Open. He would eventually replace Nadal to become the World No. 1 in February, becoming the oldest player to be ranked No. 1.

Federer again announced he would skip the clay season, which Nadal would defend successfully regaining his No. 1 rank from Federer. Federer and Nadal would flip-flop the No. 1 rank, with Nadal currently at the top after regaining the rank when Federer failed to defend his Halle Open title.

The comeback of these two players should spark inspiration to everyone. It proved that if you put in the hard work and have the determination you can always keep winning in the game you love and age is just a number.

I hope these two greats continue to provide their memorable matches and keep us entertained. The old age isn't stopping them, Father time isn't an issue and most certainly the game isn't slowing down for them.



Do you think the rivalry between Nadal and Federer is the greatest of all-time? Sound off your opinions in the comments secton below!

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CONTRIBUTOR
I am a Software Engineer with interest in sports. I watch NFL and IPL in regular basis also follow Indian Cricket Team. I also follow most of the Houston based sports Franchises including 2017 World Series Champions Astros and the Rockets.
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