Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have received so many superlatives throughout their careers that in the future their names could become words of praise.. However, whether this happens or not, their names will always be linked, because the Nadal vs Federer rivalry is considered the greatest in the history of tennis and for many sports in general.
There are still many people who disagree with that statement, indicating that before Nadal vs Federer, there have been other great matches in the history of tennis and some of them have been really very great. But let’s see some reasons why it is claimed that, like this pair, there is no other.
The greatest rivalry in white sport?
It is normal that some opinions simply do not agree with the idea and resort to a comparison that is lately obvious in tennis: the growing rivalry of Nadal-Djokovic, which has undoubtedly captured the attention of lovers of men’s tennis for most of the last decade.
But the fact is, even Nadal-Djokovic cannot match Federer-Nadal, neither in longevity nor in intensity.. While it is true that Nadal and Djokovic have met more often and that the rivalry has been more competitive, so far dating back a little over a decade, their first meeting was at the French Open in 2006.
However, what is much more important than the time of the Nadal vs Federer rivalry is its intensity, since the players are totally opposites, in their style of play, their pace of work and especially their defensive ability.
Federer and Nadal are very different in their style of play, for example, their backhand. Nadal opts for a two-handed backhand, while His Majesty uses the one-handed backhand, more classic in style and with much more elegance. But not only the technique makes the difference, his styles also show it, Federer plays much faster and with greater ease, which is appreciated in his serve.
Federer seems to slide on the court, especially when it is grass, while Nadal makes himself felt, with a strong, intense and more boisterous game. So it can be said that there is a unique clash of styles.
In some cases, older tennis fans might mention a very famous rivalry before Nadal vs Federer, which was the Borg-McEnroe rivalry between the 70s and early 80s. So well known that in 2017 the movie “Borg McEnroe”, after almost four decades after their last confrontation on the court.
In terms of temperaments, the Borg-McEnroe rivalry was much more polarized than Federer-Nadal and even more powerful in terms of playing style, as Borg was a baseline player and McEnroe a volley serve, while Federer and Nadal are essentially baseline players.
The Borg-McEnroe rivalry was relatively short-lived, about three years between 1978 and 1981, Borg retiring at the young age of 26. On the other hand, the rivalry between Federer and Nadal has already lasted for almost a decade and a half.
How does it compare to big rivalries in other sports?
If we look beyond tennis, many compare the Nadal vs Federer rivalry to a very intense one from another sport, the one between heavyweights Ali-Frazier-Foreman, who dominated the world sports landscape in the 1970s, in a similar form to this tennis duo, to which we can add the tenacious Djokovic, who have dominated the beginning of the twenty-first century.
However, that boxing rivalry was fierce and intense, but rather brief. Its duration spans the first half of the 1970s, beginning with the famous Fight of the Century between Ali and Frazier in 71 and ending about four years later with the same men fighting at The Thrilla in Manila in late 1975.
This indicates that for all the bravery, excitement and attention the Big Three captured in their fight for what was then the sport’s top prize, their rivalry does not match that of tennis players in longevity.
On the other hand, if we turn our attention to the greatest rivalry in golf, that between Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, their biggest contests between Palmer and Nicklaus took place in a relatively short period of time, essentially in the early 1960s. .
Then Nicklaus walked away from Palmer in terms of wins and titles, in Major he was 18 to Palmer’s seven. While Nicklaus won all four golf majors at least three times, Palmer only won three of America’s best golf tournaments and the PGA. Nadal and Federer have won several Grand Slam in their careers.
In motorsports, for example, there have been legendary rivalries between Niki Lauda and James Hunt and between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, which has been the common thread of the impressive Senna documentary brought to the screen in 2010, but those two rivalries were also brief. .
Hunt and Lauda’s clash lasted only one year, the 1976 season that Hunt eventually won, while Senna and Prost traded world titles every year in the second half of the 1980s.
As for rivalry in other racquet sports, such as squash or winter disciplines, such as skiing, there is no rivalry that comes close to the Nadal vs Federer phenomenon, because they do not have the global reach of tennis either. That is to say that in addition to boxing and golf, other individual sports have not produced rivalries that compare or equal that of these two tennis players.
If you want to turn to team sports to try to definitively establish whether Nadal vs Federer is the greatest of all sports rivalries. It must be clarified from the outset that the nature of team sport and that represents the basis on which a particular team is maintained for a long time, is that the components or individuals of those teams are replaced from time to time.
Learn more about Junko Tabei.