Roger Federer has quit tennis. The world of tennis loses a legend, not a rivalry with international appeal. Novak Djokovic knows it well: "Rafael Nadal will continue to be my number one rival. On the other hand, the Djokovic-Nadal rivalry has been a glorious chapter for 16 years, since that first meeting in 2006 in France, when Rafa reached the quarter-finals in straight sets when the Serbian player retired.
Since then 59 clashes in total, 30 in favor of Djokovic, nine Slam finals. For Nadal, three wins in the last four challenges: the Roland Garros final in 2020, the Rome final in 2021 and the French quarterfinals in 2022. For Nole, in the midst of a controversial 2022 to say the least, the smile in last year's semifinals on French soil.
And then there is the relationship. Novak was a guest, albeit a luxury one, at Roger Federer's farewell party. A moving moment in which the Swiss wanted to live hand in hand with the Majorcan, and certainly not for commercial reasons.
Rafa has not been tender with Nole in the past, as he was at the height of the vaccination controversy prior to the Australian Open: "No one can demand from another and we are all free, but the truth is that if you are part of a circuit, maybe you have to comply with the rules required by that circuit.
So if the tour requires players to get vaccinated to travel to protect everyone, Djokovic will have to get vaccinated if he wants to continue playing tennis at the highest level. I mean him, but everyone, including me."
Rafa Nadal is training
Roger Federer recollected the days when Rafael Nadal first entered the tour as a teenager. "I remember him as a young boy coming up on tour, being rather shy, very flamboyant and outgoing on the court but away from it he was very shy.
He struggled to make eye contact," Roger Federer said. "As time went by, he became a very strong personality, more confident as well and had his own way which I was happy to see. Today, it's just fascinating to see how through all the rivalries and through all the tough matches that we've had, we always keep a very strong bond.
I guess it comes from the connection that comes from our parents, from our teams, and having played so many big matches that went either way, and I think its nice today we have this type of relationship," he added.