Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are the current top two players in the ATP rankings and are the greatest players tennis have ever witnessed. Federer has 20 major titles, while Nadal has 17 and both of them lead the list of men's all-time most major titles. As far as facing each other is concerned, they have played 38 matches against each other on the clay, grass as well as the hard courts.
The Federer-Nadal rivalry is one of the most famous affairs in all of sports. Like Ind-Pak or Aus-Eng in cricket, the El-Classico of Football, the Federer-Nadal rivalry has seen it all. Out of the 38 occasions, Federer has won 15 while Nadal has won 23.
When it comes to Grand-slams, Nadal leads the tally by 9-3. They both faced each other for the first time in 2004 and since then, each and every facing has turned out to be a nail-biting match-up.
Here are the three best encounters between them ever.
#3 Final, NASDAQ Open-100, Miami, 2005
Federer and Nadal faced each other for the second time in their career in the NASDAQ-100 Open Finals in Miami. The hard court was all set for an enthralling encounter. During their first encounter, the Spaniard had defeated the Swiss 6-3,6-3.
It was the time for Federer to take a year old revenge in the finals. The balls were flying and exploding from both the ends. Nadal won the first two sets quite comprehensively 6-2, 7-6. He was on the third set tie-break, only two points away from the title.
But, Federer was not any less, he bounced back really hard with four consecutive points to force the fourth set. Federer won the third set by 7-6(5).
Then, in the final two sets, Roger pounced on the Spaniard. He easily won the fourth set 6-3, followed by 6-1. He dominated Nadal with the late heroics to win the title, coming back from two sets down. Certainly, this match made it clear that this duo will have some fantastic games in the coming future.
Here are highlights of that match:
#2 Internazionali BNL d’Italia final, Rome, 2006
In a month's time, it was the second final between these two to-be-legends. This time, it was the clay court in Rome, all set to host the Internazionali BNL d’Italia finals. This final lasted for more than five hours.
Federer was hitting points at the nets beautifully, but it was Nadal who was getting the more crucial ones. Federer won the first set 6-7(0), while Nadal won the second one with 7-6(5). The third set saw a lot of compassion for both the players, Nadal finally won it 6-4. But, soon, he lost the fourth set quite easily by 2-6.
The game was in the final set, the tournament was stretched up till the final set. Rafa's back-hand punches were stronger than ever, while the persistence from Roger was better than before.
With the score reading 6-4 in the favor of Federer, he got two game points. Two easy opportunities to win the title, but Roger missed them both. Now, it was Nadal's turn, as he came back into the game and went on to win the final set 7-6(5).
Here are the video highlights of this epic match:
This match cemented Rafa's love affair with the clay court. Federer, however, had lost only three matches in the whole year, all of them came against Nadal.
#1 Wimbledon Final London, 2008
Roger Federer was eyeing his 6th Wimbledon title and 13th grand slam of the career when he faced Nadal in the Wimbledon final, 2008, a match that turned out to be one of the finest matches in the history of tennis.
The, then, Roland Garros champion, Rafael Nadal had to deliver his career-best performance to beat Roger Federer on the grass court. A very high tension match was anticipated between the rivals.
In the pro-Federer crowd at the center court in London, Nadal won the first two sets straight 6-4,6-4. He almost won the third set too. But, Federer bounced back, winning two sets 7(5)-6, 7(8)-6. The rain added to the tensions further.
On the fourth occasion, serving for his first ever Wimbledon title, Nadal sealed the victory. He won the Wimbledon final 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7. This was the longest Wimbledon final (since the 1880s). Many analysts consider this as the best Tennis match ever played.
Here are highlights of this epic final: