I know lots of people have written similar articles, but I couldn't stop myself from writing about these two guys!
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal share a great rivalry, the word 'rivalry' was almost forgotten after the Great Pete Sampras retired in 2002. It began in 2004 at Florida when the young Nadal upset the World No. 1.
I would like to go through the matches these two champions played against each other at the Grand Slams.
Roger Federer, having lost the Aussie open to Marat Safin in an epic semifinals, was a favorite but there was an upcoming Spaniard in the form of Rafael Nadal, seeded 5 for the tournament.
The two players had won once against each other being in the ATP Masters at Florida in 2004 and 2005. both of them cruised to the semifinal which was a very anticipated match.
Nadal beat Federer 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-3 to march to the final and win his first Roland Garros at the age of 19!
The stakes were higher this time with Federer giving Nadal a very tough fight (almost pulled it off) at Rome. He had also won the Aussie Open.
Nadal, having reached No. 2 by the year end was still the favourite, lost the first set only to regroup to take the next three and win the finals 1-6 6-1 6-4 7-6(4).
Federer had played well but it was one of those rare occasions when he won the first set and still lost the match.
Federer and his fans were disappointed. It was definitely not a white wash and they hoped for the dream to come true the following year and off they went went to SW19.
The world's top two players having played the Roland garros finals marched in contrasting styles as Federer cruised while Nadal crawled to his first Wimbledon finals. Not many had predicted this final including Federer.
The result, though, was as expected. Nadal got some credit for putting up a brave fight and managing to take a set off Federer! Federer's third straight wimbledon and he finishes the year with all the grand slams except the french.
A clear dominance from the Swiss maestro.
The finals of Roland Garros yet again saw these two winning their earlier rounds comfortably. This time there was more expectation from Federer as he had beaten Nadal in Hamburg (considered a warm up tournament for the French) to end his 81 match winning streak on clay.
This time too Nadal managed to prevail in four tough sets although Federer had his chances. Nadal had won his third straight French open title and was considered almost imopssible to beat on clay.
Yet another year without the French Open for Federer. And yet again people thought it would be next year.
With the grass courts becoming slower, Nadal was gaining an upper hand even as the tennis greats believed it could be his year.
They were correct..well almost...The match went into the fifth set as we saw Federer's emotions on the court. The four time defending champion managed to hold on to his nerve to equal Borg's record of five straight Wimbledon titles.
It was a classic match in which Nadal played better but failed in the main points (something that had been said off Federer in the French Open).
Federer once again won the US open to make it three grand slams a year for the third time in his career (2004, 2006, 2007). Federer was regarded as one of the greatest of all time.
The two players exchanged wins over each other as Nadal won the clay court titles and Federer won the ATP masters cup at Shangai.
This final was also expected to be one of the classics between these two. In the end it turned out to be a mockery with Nadal literally blowing Federer off the court.
Nadal won 6-1 6-3 6-0 in a mere 108 minutes and its considered as one of the most lopsided finals in the French Open history. It was also one of the very few times Federer had lost a set 6-0.
A clearly demoralized Federer moved to Wimbledon to defend his title and make it a record sixth title. The stakes were higher with Nadal winning the Queen's Club tournament (a warm up tournament for Wimbledon).
The match started and after two sets there was considerable amount of shock and disbelief in the spectators. Nadal had won both sets! It had to be one of the greatest comebacks of all time to win from there.
If there was a person who could do it, it had to be Roger Federer.
As expected Federer started a comeback and soon made it two sets all amid rain interruptions winning both sets in the tie breaker. the match went well into the fifth hour as Nadal finally broke Federer to lead 8-7.
He then served to win 6-4 6-4 6-7(5) 6-7(8) 9-7 which is considered one of the greatest matches of all time. The match had lasted 4 hours 47 minutes and ended in mere darkness.
A totally shattered Federer couldn't believe how things had changed.
Nadal went on to dethrone Federer from the number 1 ranking. Federer had held it for a record 237 weeks! Federer, for the great man he is, went on to win his fifth US open title. Another record! No other player had won 5 consecutive titles twice in the Open era.
Nadal managed to hold on to his number 1 ranking till the year end. 2009 was considered to be an exciting year with top four players in great form.
This match was the third consecutive Grand Slam finals the arch rivals were playing. This time the seedings had changed with Nadal being No. 1 and Federer No. 2.
Nadal went to the semifinals without losing a set. He faced fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the semifinals and they played the longest match in Australian Open history with Nadal edging out his countryman in five hours and 14 minutes.
Federer, on the other hand, survived a scare in the fourth round against Tomas Berdych when he rallied back from two sets down to win the match. He later thrashed Del Potro and Roddick in the quarterfianls and semifinals respectively.
Nadal, expected to be physically drained out, wasn't considered a favourite. More importantly, with Federer in imperious touch, Nadal was not expected to win. We know what had happened. Nadal beat Federer in another nail biting, gripping contest lasting almost 4 and a half hours. The Spaniard won his first Australian Open title 7-5 3-6 7-6(3) 3-6 6-2 and continued his dominance over Federer.
He now holds a 13-6 record over the Swiss and many will doubt if that will ever change in favour of Federer.
This photo says it all!! Cheers all!