By R. Behar
Sports and rivalry are a pair that cannot be separated. Much to the likeness of french fries and ketchup or salt and pepper, sports and rivalries go hand in hand. Nothing is more exciting than spectating historical rivals such as Real Madrid against Barcelona, the Celtics against the Lakers or even a basketball game between our very own St Paul’s Lions and the Graded Eagles. One rivalry however that has dominated a sport for decades and sparked many debates for which athlete is the GOAT of this sport, is that of Spaniard Rafael Nadal and Swiss Roger Federer.
The king of the clay court, Nadal, and the king of the grass courts, Federer, have been going at it in over 40 games from 2004 to the present day. The competitiveness between the two is highlighted by their slight difference in total grand slams won, Federer beats Nadal by one trophy. This rivalry also known as “Fedal” is considered a classic, due to the immensely different styles of both players. Whilst Federer is a smooth, right-handed player with a one-hand backhand, Nadal is an aggressive lefty with a powerful two-handed backhand. Patrick McEnroe explains the matches “wow” factor by the fact that “One is a super aggressive lefty with his physicality and the other is the smoothest player out there.” The uniqueness of the rivalry itself lies in the contrast of styles and personalities of the two players.
Without further delay let’s dazzle into numbers and dates to get a full understanding of where this battle of giants stems from. The rivalry began in 2004 when Nadal and Federer first played in Miami. The newly ranked No. 1, Federer was stunned by a teen Nadal who beat him with a stellar performance in two straight sets. From then on, the rivalry met its peak by 2006 and going up to 2009. For three years in a row the world ranked numbers one and two met in the French Open and Wimbledon finals three consecutive times. Between 2008 and 2014 however, Nadal dominated. The Mallorcan triumphed 15 times whilst only losing four matches. The rivalry seemed to be deep in Nadal’s favour. By 2014 Nadal held a 23-10 record: his heavy top spin and left-handed play dazzled Federer. Since 2015 however, the Swiss man has taken an advantage; since then, he has won 6 matches and only lost one.
Even though both players have left their primes and seem to be nearing retirement they are sure to have a few more encounters. These two legends of the sport of tennis have solidified themselves as GOATs and their rivalry is sure to be enjoyed and cherished by millions of Tennis players for generations to come.