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Those that make the case for Nadal as the greatest player of all time, immediately point out his 22-10 career record versus Federer. He won their first career match at Miami’s hard courts in 2004, and ripped off six wins in their first seven meetings.
It’s fair to say that Nadal has controlled this rivalry from the beginning. He has been a match-up nightmare for his Swiss rival, attacking his backhand with otherworldly topspin and retrieving shots with defensive tenacity.
Nadal has most dominated their rivalry on clay courts, highlighted by four French Open final wins (2006-08, 2011).
Since 2011, Nadal has won eight of 10 meetings including all four matches in 2013. He has the special capacity to assert his mental toughness and belief against Federer, and has generally outlasted him with consistent baseline power and efficiency.
Federer has had more success on hard courts versus Nadal, but still trails on this surface 8-6. On outdoor hard courts, Federer has dropped seven of nine matches to Nadal.
This is especially critical at the Australian Open, where the conditions allow Nadal to generate greater bounce on his topspin and play further back on the baseline. Nadal defeated Federer in their classic five-set 2009 Australian Open final. He claimed their other meeting Down Under in 2012, a four-set semifinal.
Clearly, Nadal comes into their 2014 semifinal meeting with a greater resume of success.