Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal: The Top 5 Epic Showdowns

Sarah LeavittContributor IMarch 16, 2011

Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal: The Top 5 Epic Showdowns

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    Their rivalry is one of the most talked about in tennis circles. For six years, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer held the No. 1 and No. 2 spot in ATP tennis and these two men have met in final after final.

    Some are Team Rafa and others are Fed's court, but neither side can deny the amazing tennis that results when these two tennis Gods meet. At the end of the 2010 season, the score was 14-8 in favour of Nadal, with the Spaniard having greater success at the Grand Slams.

    Here are their top five clashes.

Popping Their Cherries: March 2004

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    The first time Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal played against each other is worthy of remembering.

    March 2004: Miami Masters third round. Federer was 22 years old and had just claimed the No. 1 spot in February, having won his first two Grand Slam titles. Then came 17-year-old Rafael Nadal who was ranked No. 34 at the time.

    Nadal shocked the tennis world with a decisive, straight sets win.

First Grand Slam Final: 2006 French Open

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    Fed and Rafa first met in a Grand Slam final at the 2006 French Open. Between 2006-2008, they would meet at every Wimbledon and French Open final.

    In 2006, though, Nadal proved victorious for a second year in a row in Paris (it's on clay after all) with a 1–6, 6–1, 6–4, 7–6(4) win.

King of Clay in Trouble?

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    The 2007 season went in Federer's favour, where he won three of five matches against Nadal.

    The most surprising win came at the Hamburg Masters. Nadal is described as the "king of clay" and odds are always overwhelmingly in his favour when his opponent is Federer on that surface. Before this final, Nadal had an 81-match winning streak on clay.

    Federer surprised everybody by winning the title in just three sets, with a decisive 6-0 third set to finish Nadal off.

    Everybody in the tennis world thought Federer had found the formula to beat Nadal on clay but it was not the case: Nadal took the next tournament's title...the French Open.

The Battle of Surfaces

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    While this was an exhibition match (why not pay $1.63 million just for fun?), the idea behind it was brilliant. The King of Clay on a clay surface against the Wimbledon champ on grass. Federer had won 48 straight matches on grass courts; Nadal, 72 straight on clay.

    Played in Nadal's hometown of Palma de Mallorca, he won 7–5, 4–6, 7–6 (12–10).

The Greatest Match in Tennis History

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    Not only was it the longest final in Wimbledon history (4 hours and 48 minutes) but the Federer vs. Nadal 2008 final is said to be the greatest match in tennis history. The score: 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7 to Nadal.

    Rain delays, epic tiebreakers, and the end to Federer's record streaks of five Wimbledon titles; even an entire book is dedicated to the match (Strokes of Genius by L. Jon Wertheim).

    To Federer fans, it was a wicked blow and to Nadal's, it began his ascension to take the No. 1 spot that Federer clung to dearly.

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