Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal created the most heated rivalry in the history of tennis. The extraordinary longevity of these two players has allowed fans to enjoy their talent for over a decade. The Swiss and the Spanish are the two tennis players who have won the most Grand Slam titles in the history of this sport and the next Roland Garros could be paired with 20 Major titles.
In a recent interview, former World number 2 Alex Corretja recalls his first memories of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Corretja on his first memories of Federer and Nadal
"They are thinking like, 'Why can't I be the best in the history?', so that's what I think is giving them this sort of feeling...their passion and the love they have for the game - but also the fact that they can become the greatest, I believe," said Corretja.
The 1998 and 2001 Roland Garros finalist recalled the first time he played Roger Federer. "When he first started on tour, you know, I played with Roger Federer several times, and I realized already that he can turn around and just go for it all of a sudden," Corretja said on the vodcast.
"His serve was great, his footwork, but you could see that he was still improving. With Rafa, I hit with him one morning at 9 AM in Barcelona, and he was waiting for me with a sleeveless (shirt) and waiting to hit the first ball.
I was wearing like a scarf and a hat and everything, like, so cold, and the first ball I threw to him, he went like, boom! He was only 16 years old. So I stopped and I said, 'How can you hit the first ball so hard?" - he concluded.
From 2006 to 2008, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal played in every French Open and Wimbledon final. Their 2008 Wimbledon final was lauded as the greatest match ever by many long-time tennis analysts. Their 2017 Australian Open final was one of the more highly anticipated major finals in tennis history, in part due to the relevance within popular discussions on their placement in greatest of all time listings, coupled with that fact that they were both already in their 30s, which is usually when most male players are on the decline or have already retired.
Other matches considered particularly notable include the 2006 Italian Open final, 2007 Wimbledon final, and 2009 Australian Open final, with each match going to five sets.