Matches like the 2008 Wimbledon final and the 2009 Australian Open final provided supreme quality, high drama, and a contrast of styles—what more could the world want?
The answer to that question is records. It seems that every time these two champions play, they are playing not only for that one particular match or tournament, but for the history books as well.
2008 French Open final—Nadal was aiming to equal Bjorn Borg's record of four consecutive titles at Roland Garros, and Federer looked to complete his "career slam."
2008 Wimbledon final—Nadal was trying to become the first man since Borg to win the French Open-Wimbledon double, and the first man ever to win the French Open, Queen's Club, and Wimbledon all in one calendar year; Federer was aiming to surpass Borg's record of five consecutive titles at the All England Club.
2009 Australian Open final—Nadal's goal was to join the elite group of men who have won majors on all three surfaces; Federer's was to equal Pete Sampras' record 14 Grand Slam titles.
2009 Madrid Masters 1000 final—Nadal aspired to be the first man to win all three clay-court Masters 1000 events in one year; Federer looked to tie with Nadal in second place for total number of Masters titles and to snap Nadal's 33-match win streak on clay.
Nadal and Federer have played each other on 20 occasions thus far, and the world waits with bated breath for the 21st installment in this captivating rivalry.
Will it come at this year's French Open? Who knows—but if it does, it will be no less intense, no less entrancing, and no less worth watching than any of their previous encounters.
Whenever the 21st chapter is written, it will be an event to go down in history.