Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have given birth to one of the most legendary rivalries in the modern age of sport, whose favorable repercussions have extended beyond the borders of tennis. Although the Swiss and the Spaniard have often contended for the most prestigious trophies on the circuit, they still managed to maintain an excellent relationship off the pitch.
Yet another triumph at Roland Garros last year also allowed the 34-year-old Majorcan to equal the record of 20 Grand Slams held by his eternal rival, thus crowning a very long chase. Since their first direct showdown in Miami in 2004, Federer and Nadal have faced each other 39 more times, with the Iberian leading 24-16 in the head-to-head record.
Their last challenge dates back to the semifinal of Wimbledon 2019, when King Roger won in four sets, taking revenge from the match staged at Roland Garros just a few weeks earlier. Both Rafa and Roger will not be at the start of the first Masters 1000 of the season, the Miami Open, which kicks off in the middle of next week.
In a recent interview, Nadal once again expressed all his admiration for Federer. Nadal is struggling with a painful back problem, which prevented him from going beyond the quarter-finals at the Australian Open (defeated in five sets by Stefanos Tsitsipas).
The Manacor phenomenon wants to be found 100% for the start of the season on clay, so it is likely that his return will take place in Monte Carlo in about a month. At Roland Garros, Rafa will have the greedy chance of putting his 21st Major on the board and detaching (perhaps definitively) his lifelong opponent.
Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal: an amazing rivalry
“I want to be Roger Federer when I play the individual game,” began Rafael Nadal in the interview. “If I play with Roger, I’m playing with Roger but not me against Roger, me with Roger.
I feel impossible to lose”. The current World Number 3 couldn’t follow up the latest glory run at Roland-Garros with a second Australian Open title this year. Coming into the tournament in the hope of doing a repeat of 2009 when he had outlasted old foe Roger Federer in five thrilling sets to lift the trophy, Nadal made short work of opponents to reach the semi-final.
With two sets to the good, the Spaniard was literally cruising his last-four clash against Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas. However, an inexplicable mid-match slump, coupled with a heroic fightback from the current World Number 5, saw Nadal lose the next three sets to crash out of the tournament.