Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer: A Preview of Tennis's Greatest Rivalry

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Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer: A Preview of Tennis's Greatest Rivalry
Julian Finney/Getty Images

As soon as the groups were formed, the only thing on people's minds was: When's the Federer-Nadal match gonna be? Nadal-Djokovic might be the rivalry of the future, but nothing quite captivates the imagination as these two impossibly diverse champions battling to defeat their greatest nemesis; Federer the effortless perfectionist, floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee, Nadal the tireless gladiator, determined to hunt down whatever lies in his way with all he has.

They play each other tomorrow in front of what is inevitably going to be a packed house, and judging by the contests we've already been treated to in London, this one should not disappoint. As if it needs any build up anyway...

Looking into it, Federer's in better form over the past few weeks, and perhaps the only player in the group who's genuinely injury free. He's won his last 13 matches and is a much more accomplished player than Rafa indoors. Nadal did get to the final in Bangkok, but he ran out of gas there against an Andy Murray on fire, and was stunned by Florian Mayer in Shanghai. Besides, these two have met three times in this competition, with the Swiss winning on each occasion. Therefore, Federer goes in, almost unarguably, as the favourite.

However, Nadal will perhaps be best remembered at the end of his career as the only man who could consistently beat Federer. He has a vicious top spinning forehand, which he almost religiously keeps angling towards the world No. 4's single-handed backhand, pushing the Swiss master out of his comfort zone. Federer is forced to run around it, and this opens up his forehand wing. Due to the fact that Nadal's a left-hander, his game matches up nicely to Roger's, giving him more than a fighting chance in tomorrow's group match.

This will be a scintillating contest not worth missing for the world, and if both players are anywhere near their best, we could be in for one of the matches of the season. The crowd will be largely behind Federer (it is, everywhere) and expect him to be fully pumped up to exact revenge for his three previous defeats to the Spaniard this year. Nadal is expected to raise his level from what it was against Fish, but look for Roger to pull out the win in two tight sets.

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