The stars have finally aligned: Federer Nadal rivalry revives itself in the finals of the Swiss Indoors
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal won their respective semi final matches to set up a 34th encounter between the two legends of the sport. Hard as it may seem the duo are meeting for the first time in 2015. In fact the last time the Federer Nadal rivalry took place was in the Semi Finals of the Australian Open in 2014.
The Federer Nadal rivalry
Tennis fans across the globe have undoubtedly witnessed some great rivalries in the Open Era, from the Borg-McEnroe-Connors triumvirate to the Agassi-Sampras rivalry to the present day. But perhaps no other rivalry has evoked so much emotion from the fans and captured so many audiences as the Federer Nadal rivalry.
Statistically it’s a rivalry if the head to head numbers of the two players are pretty close, the Federer Nadal rivalry on the other hand is overwhelmingly in the favor of the Spainard (23-10) but Federer Nadal rivalry has never been just about the numbers. Their rivalry was about contrasting styles- Federer’s elegance vs Nadal’s brute strength, unreal forehands- Roger’s Swiss precision Forehand against Rafa’s wicked top spinning forehand, yet the common denominator between them was champion’s spirit.
If Nadal was the one who denied Federer a chance of achieving a calendar Grand Slam on 2 occasions, Federer in turn returned the favor of sorts by keeping away the Spaniard from the top position for 160 consecutive weeks.
Their rivalry transcended the tennis world and was compared with other great rivalries like Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, Ronaldo and Messi. After all Federer and Nadal are the only pair of men to have finished six consecutive calendar years as the top two ranked players on the ATP Tour, which they did from 2005–2010. This included a record 211 consecutive weeks sharing the top two rankings from July 2005 to August 2009.
2004: When it all began
Federer and Nadal played their first ATP tour match in March 2004 at the third round of the Miami Masters. Nadal, then only 17 years old and ranked No. 34 at the time, surprised on and all by beating the then No. 1 in straight sets. Their second meeting was one year later, again in Miami, but this time in a best-of-five-set final. Federer recovered from a two-set deficit to win in five sets.
2006-2011: The Golden days of the rivalry
From the summer of 2005 Federer and Nadal were perched at the top two positions in the ATP rankings-which they vacated after 4 long years. During this time their Federer Nadal rivalry scaled new heights with the 2008 Wimbledon Final undoubtedly being the greatest match played by the duo. After the final the King of Clay was finally able to dethrone Federer from the top spot.
Federer and Nadal: The Ageing warriors
Given the peaks seen by this rivalry it is hard to fathom that they are meeting after a gap of more than a year and a half. But now winds of change have begun to flow in the tennis world, the once obvious meeting the finals between the two superstars of the game is not a certainty anymore. The top 2 slots which Rafa and Roger had almost made their synonyms now have the names Djokovic and Murray etched by their side. Where age seems to be slowly but surely catching up with the most graceful player on court, injury toils have weakened the body of one of the most supremely gifted athletes in tennis history. But still a Federer Nadal match is enough to grab the headlines and if the match happens to be a final like the one on Sunday its icing on the cake for the tennis fans.