Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal Rivalry: Is It That Good?

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Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal Rivalry: Is It That Good?
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Most say that the greatest rivalry in the sport of tennis is happening right now. It started in 2004, and is still going.  

It's Roger Federer versus Rafael Nadal. Critics have declared this rivalry the greatest of all time. Fittingly, Federer and Nadal are one of the people to wield a racket and bounce it across the net.

But before we celebrate this amazing rivalry, there is a question.  Is this rivalry that good?

Borg-McEnroe. Sampras-Agassi. Nadal-Federer. In my eyes, the "Fedal" rivalry pales in comparison to the first two. There are quite a few reasons to my claim:


1.  Lack of close matches.

Out of the 21 times they have met, only six have really gone the distance. The 2008 Wimbledon final may have been the match of all time, but the other two rivalries have had their fair share of epics.  

Although there have been more three or five set matches between Federer and Nadal, many of them weren't contentious enough to be called a close match.

One example is the 2007 Hamburg Masters final. The match went to Federer 2-6, 6-2, 6-0. It may be remembered for ending Nadal's 81-match winning streak on clay, but the match had the same score-line as the Dementieva-Petrova French Open fourth round this year. (Who remembers that match?)

2. Quality of Play

Magic creates more magic. That wasn't the case with many of the Federer-Nadal matches. Far too many times were there streaks of magnificent tennis, only to be followed by long, frustrating spans of unforced errors.

3.  Lack of "Competitive Fire"

Yes, there was a certain degree of competitive fire, but I believe Federer and Nadal have too much respect for each other. McEnroe wanted to kill Borg. Agassi, the same with Sampras.  The Fedal rivalry doesn't have the deep down, dark feeling for each other, which would create more drama.

All of those factors contribute to my claim that the Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal rivalry is not the greatest in the history of the sport.  They are the Bjorn Borg-John McEnroe and Andre Agassi-Pete Sampras rivalries.

However, in the end, what most analysts agree on is that the Federer-Nadal rivalry is the greatest competition to ever touch and bless the sport of tennis.

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