Best rivalries in sports


Federer and Nadal have been playing each other since 2004 and their rivalry is a significant part of both men’s careers.

They held the top two rankings on the ATP Tour from July 2005 until 17 August 2009, when Nadal fell to world no. 3 (Andy Murray became the new no. 2).[113] They are the only pair of men to have ever finished six consecutive calendar years at the top. Federer was ranked no. 1 for a record 237 consecutive weeks beginning in February 2004. Nadal, who is five years younger, ascended to no. 2 in July 2005 and held this spot for a record 160 consecutive weeks, before surpassing Federer in August 2008.[114]

Nadal leads their head-to-head 23–10. Of their 33 matches, 15 have been on clay, which is by far Nadal’s best surface.[115] Federer has a winning record on grass (2–1) and indoor hard courts (4–1), while Nadal leads the outdoor hard courts (8–2) and clay (13–2).[116] Because tournament seedings are based on rankings, 20 of their matches have been in tournament finals which have included an all-time record eight Grand Slam finals.[117] From 2006 to 2008, they played in every French Open and Wimbledon final. They then met in the 2009 Australian Open final and the 2011 French Openfinal. Nadal won six of the eight, losing the first two Wimbledon finals. Three of these finals were five set-matches (2007 and 2008 Wimbledon, 2009 Australian Open), with the 2008 Wimbledon final being lauded as the greatest match ever by many long-time tennis analysts.[118][119][120][121] Of their 33 meetings, 11 have reached a deciding set. They have also played in a record 10 Masters Seriesfinals (tied with Nadal-Djokovic finals), including their lone five-hour match at the 2006 Rome Masters which Nadal won in a fifth-set tie-break, having saved two match points.


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