Rafael Nadal: ‘Roger Federer is my greatest rival’

Asked about his greatest rival on the Tour, Rafael Nadal picked Roger Federer, the one against whom he had to play throughout his career! Federer and Nadal forged one of the most thrilling tennis rivalries when they met for the first time in Miami 2004, with the young Spaniard beating the newly-crowned world no. 1 in straight sets. From 2005, Roger and Rafa were the Tour’s dominant figures, fighting for Major and Masters 1000 titles and leaving all the rivals behind them. We have seen nine Major finals with Federer and Nadal battling for the trophy, and they have played some of the most memorable encounters ever, including Rome 2006, Wimbledon 2008 and many others. Nadal scored four straight wins over Federer at Roland Garros between 2005-08, while Roger had the upper hand in back-to-back Wimbledon finals in 2006 and 2007, extending his incredible streak on grass that had started in 2003.

Making significant progress on the fastest surface, Nadal would reach two Wimbledon finals in the mentioned years, challenging Roger harder and harder and preparing another assault in 2008 after the fourth straight Roland Garros crown. Nadal and Federer were the All England Club’s favorites, passing six obstacles and reaching the third consecutive final. Since 2003, Roger had 40 successive wins in the cathedral of tennis, and Nadal broke that incredible streak thanks to a memorable 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7 victory in four hours and 48 minutes! The Spaniard had a clear advantage over the Swiss before 2015.Rafael Nadal picked Roger Federer as his biggest rival.

Federer turned the tide from Basel that year, winning six of the last seven clashes (only one encounter on clay) against his nemesis and reducing the deficit to 16-24. In their most recent duels, Nadal and Federer shared Major semi-final wins within a couple of weeks at Roland Garros and Wimbledon 2019.

In Paris, the clay king scored a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 triumph following six breaks and a solid serving display. At the All England Club, Roger grabbed a 7-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory, stealing Rafa’s serve once in sets three and four to leave a poor second set behind and remain on the title course. For the first time, Nadal and Federer are tied to 20 Major trophies following Rafa’s victorious campaign at Roland Garros in October. The entire tennis world expects the new clash between the ultimate champions in 2021 if Federer returns at his best after two knee surgeries.

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