Baseball has the Yankees and Red Sox. Soccer has F.C. Barcelona and Real Madrid. College football has Michigan and Ohio State.
Over the past 20 years, men’s tennis has had Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and likewise Federer and Novak Djokovic. In team sports, rosters change 12 months by 12 months and the rivalries endure. But when players retire in individual sports like tennis, their rivalries go along with them.
Such is the case for Federer, the 20-time Grand Slam champion, and his rivalries with Nadal, the 22-time Grand Slam champion, and Djokovic, who has 21 Grand Slam titles.
Jon Wertheim, a Tennis Channel commentator and sports journalist, said the younger Nadal and Djokovic had more time to organize for how one can beat Federer.
“By virtue of being first, he couldn’t tailor his game for how one can beat them,” Wertheim said of Federer. “I don’t think he gets enough credit for raising the bar. He’ll finish third in majors won, but there’s an enormous drawback that comes with being first.”
Ultimately, Federer played Nadal 40 times from their first match against one another within the round of 32 on the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Miami in 2004 (which Nadal won) to their most up-to-date match, a Wimbledon semifinal in 2019 (which Federer won). Federer beat Nadal 16 times; Nadal won 24 times.
Federer and Djokovic played in 50 matches against one another. Starting with their first match on the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Monaco (which Federer won) to their most up-to-date match, a semifinal on the Australian Open in 2020 (which Djokovic won), Djokovic got here out barely ahead, winning 27 matches to Federer’s 23.
David Law, a commentator and co-host of “The Tennis Podcast,” said the rivalries made all three players higher over time.
“One would gain the upper hand, the opposite was forced to adapt,” Law said. “Federer doesn’t develop the smashed backhand drive down the road if Nadal doesn’t force him into taking it early to avoid the high backhand off the back foot. Djokovic doesn’t develop his serve with the assistance of Goran Ivanisevic if Federer isn’t throughout him attempting to half volley the return and charge in.”
The rivalries made for some epic matches. Here’s a have a look at a few of the very best between Federer and Nadal, and Federer and Djokovic:
Nadal vs. Federer, 2008 Wimbledon final
For a lot of fans, the 2008 Wimbledon men’s final will go down as top-of-the-line matches within the history of tennis. Going into the ultimate that 12 months, Federer had won five consecutive Wimbledon singles titles, including two against Nadal, in 2006 and 2007.
Played on Centre Court, which didn’t yet have a roof, the match was delayed twice due to rain, pushing it closer and closer to darkness. The match went to tiebreakers within the third and fourth sets. Within the fourth set, Federer saved two match points, and within the fifth set, he was two points away from winning his sixth consecutive Wimbledon final.
Roger Federer’s Farewell to Skilled Tennis
The Swiss tennis player leaves the sport with considered one of the best competitive records in history.
- An Appraisal: “He has, figuratively and literally, re-embodied men’s tennis, and for the primary time in years, the sport’s future is unpredictable,” the writer David Foster Wallace wrote of Roger Federer in 2006.
- A Poignant Send-Off: Wimbledon could have been more fitting. However the Laver Cup, which Federer helped create, will offer a smart final act for considered one of the best players of this era.
- A Billion-Dollar Brand: Some tennis superstars have built sponsorship empires. But none ever wooed the company class as brilliantly as Federer did.
- Tennis After Federer: The Swiss player, together with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, helped define a remarkably durable period in men’s tennis history. Following behind is a recent generation of hungry players, able to muscle their way into the breach.
Finally, at 9:16 p.m. local time, after 4 hours 48 minutes, Federer hit a forehand into the online. Nadal collapsed onto the grass along with his first Wimbledon title, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (8), 9-7.
Federer said after the match that it was “probably my hardest loss, by far; I mean it’s not much harder than this at once.”
“He played an excellent match, and I’m sure it was an ideal match to observe and to play, nevertheless it’s throughout now,” Federer said. “I want a while.”
Nadal vs. Federer, 2009 Australian Open final
Federer and Nadal met again the subsequent 12 months on the Australian Open final in 2009. Again, the 2 played five sets in a match that lasted greater than 4 hours. Ultimately, Nadal defeated Federer, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-2, stopping Federer not less than temporarily from matching Pete Sampras’s record of 14 Grand Slam singles titles.
The extraordinary match can also be remembered for its emotional ending. After the match, a devastated Federer struggled to talk in the course of the trophy ceremony.
“God, it’s killing me,” he said before breaking into tears.
After lifting his trophy, Nadal walked back to Federer and put his arm around him and put his head to Federer’s, appearing to console him. Federer pulled himself together and walked back to the microphone.
“I don’t wish to have the last word; this guy deserves it,” Federer said. “So, Rafa, congratulations. You played incredible. You deserve it, man.”
Djokovic vs. Federer, 2014 Wimbledon final
Law said that while the 2008 Wimbledon final can be remembered as a standout match, “the very best rivalry was the one between Federer and Djokovic.”
They met within the Wimbledon final in 2014. By then, Federer had seven Wimbledon titles, and Djokovic had one. The ultimate went to 5 sets, with tiebreakers in the primary and third sets.
At 4-5, Federer was serving with the sport at 40-15 in Djokovic’s favor. Attempting to return considered one of Djokovic’s forehand shots, Federer’s iconic one-handed backhand failed him, as he hit the ball into the online, losing the match, 6-7 (7), 6-4, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-4.
“Winning or losing, it’s all the time something special and something you’ll remember, much more so when the match was as dramatic because it was today,” Federer said after the match. “It’s much more memorable after I see my kids there with my wife and every part. That’s what touched me probably the most, to be quite honest. The frustration of the match itself went pretty quickly.”
Nadal vs. Federer, 2017 Australian Open final
Federer, then 35, entered the Australian Open in 2017 after some considerable time without work in 2016 due to a knee injury. Federer reached the ultimate and defeated Nadal, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. The win was Federer’s first major title since Wimbledon in 2012 and the primary time he had beaten Nadal in a Grand Slam final since Wimbledon in 2007.
Like within the 2008 Wimbledon final, when Nadal and Federer played, Law said that “neither could pick on a particular weakness.”
“It became a sharpshooter’s matchup filled with shotmaking, attack and counterattack,” Law said.
Though it was a meaningful win for Federer, the match resulted in a lower than ideal manner. Serving while up, 5-3, in the ultimate set, and after a small flurry of line challenges, Federer hit a forehand to Nadal’s right on a championship point. The ball was called in, but Nadal immediately raised a finger and challenged, arguing that the ball was out.
The players anxiously waited for the official review of the shot, which confirmed that the ball was in and had hit the road. Federer immediately threw his arms into the air and leaped in celebration.
“In fact, it’s barely awkward to win this manner,” Federer said after the match. “Nevertheless, emotions poured out of me. I used to be incredibly blissful.”
Djokovic vs. Federer, 2019 Wimbledon final
The Wimbledon final in 2019 will go down as Federer’s last appearance in a Grand Slam final. To succeed in it, Federer beat Nadal in 4 sets within the semifinal. The ultimate turned out to be one other marathon, five sets in 4 hours 57 minutes. The ultimate set lasted just over two hours by itself. Ultimately, Djokovic beat Federer, 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 13-12 (3).
Djokovic saved two match points on Federer’s serve, then won in a final-set tiebreaker that was the primary of its kind for a Wimbledon final.
After the match, Djokovic said he thought Federer had commanded many of the match.
“I used to be defending,” Djokovic said. “He was dictating the play. I just tried to fight and discover a way when it mattered probably the most, which is what happened.”
Federer said there have been some similarities to the Wimbledon final in 2008 when he lost to Nadal.
“I just feel prefer it’s such an incredible opportunity missed, I can’t consider it,” Federer said.