There have been many notable tennis rivalries since the beginning of the Open era in 1968, with certain players dominating over the rest of the field to forge unforgettable battles and extend their competition to a higher level.
Before the Open era, pro players would face each other night after night in different cities, competing in a series of matches in a couple of months and receiving excellent money for that. In the Open era, there are ten rivalries with at least 30 encounters, led by Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal who have faced each other no less than 145 times since 2004, mostly in the semis and finals of the most notable events in the calendar!
Besides them, Jimmy Connors fought numerous times against John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl, with the childhood rivals Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker also embracing 35 meetings. Still, for Patrick McEnroe, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have forged the greatest rivalry in the history of the game, producing 40 unforgettable clashes and promoting tennis in the best possible way ever since Miami 2004.
Over the years, Roger and Rafa have battled in nine Major finals, pushing each other to the limits on every surface and almost every celebrated event around the world, giving the fans something to cheer about and bringing the army of new supporters year after year.
"I think it has got to number one," McEnroe told ESPN. "The reason why Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal is such an incredible rivalry is the contrast in styles and different personalities. One is a super aggressive lefty with his physicality and the other who is the smoothest player out there.
He's the Baryshnikov of tennis in the way he's played his career. When you get the chance to watch these matches, going way back to 2006, the first time they played in the Wimbledon final and then that epic Australian Open final from three years ago, the fact that these guys have continued to push other.
They've played some of the most incredible matches ever. The rivalry between John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg was great but they only played 14 times; Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert also had an incredible rivalry."