Amongst the ‘Big 3’ battles of the 2000s, the Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal rivalry has produced some jaw-dropping and picturesque clashes over the years. The pair have developed a friendship that transcends competition through their camaraderie.
Through their intense and close matches, the pair have risen to the very top of the tennis elite and have cemented their legacy as tennis phenomenons. Often, Federer quips that Nadal is his favourite opponent to face, and the Spaniard has shared a laugh with the Swiss on many occasions.
Federer picks Nadal as his favorite double’s partner
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal caught up during a Laver Cup interview that the Swiss was giving. Nadal, speaking via a video conference, asked the Swiss who his favourite doubles partner was and proceeded to wink in self-reference.
Federer, in a moment of mirth, remarked that his wife was who he thought of initially as his ideal double’s partner but that Rafael Nadal, or ‘Rafa’, could hold the honour.
The pair have often joked about being one another’s favorite opponent or doubles partners on multiple occasions. In a video from 2017, Nadal asks Federer if he can become his doubles partner for the rest of the season. Federer jokes that Rafa would have to switch nationalities for that to happen.
“Yeah, that’s a great idea,’ Federer said before turning to Nadal and saying: “Are you going to become Swiss, as well, maybe, and then we can play doubles together at the Olympics?”
But, in all seriousness, Federer found the possibility of its occurrence, an impossibility.
“No, that won’t happen. Not from my side.” he added.
Roger Federer hung his boots in 2022 while Nadal is recuperating from a hip injury that he sustained in early 2023.
Federer’s relationship with longtime rival Nadal
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have set the tennis stage on fire many times through their careers. They are second and third in the men’s grand slam title record list, lagging behind an undying Novak Djokovic.
The pair met 40 times during their career, with Nadal trumping the Swiss 24 times. Their joint statuses as elite tennis icons is captured vividly through their achievements of being the only two players in tennis history to finish six consecutive seasons at the top of the rankings.
Known as ‘Fedal’ to fervent fans, Roger Federer has commented on their relationships in earlier interviews, stating that the pair found each other intolerable initially.
“We started respecting the rivalry. We almost miss it, playing each other every weekend. Back in the day we couldn’t stand each other probably for that. He’s a great man. I wish he can come back one more time but he has shown the tennis world and the fans how good he is.” he said.
“I’m five years older than Rafa, so when I came on tour I saw young, junior Rafa come through and he was extremely good, very young. He was incredibly respectful and also very shy, he had an unbelievable respect for me – not that he doesn’t have that now anymore, it’s just different because we’re friendly.” he remarked, in a nostalgic reference.
Federer leads Nadal 3-1 on grass and 11-9 on hard courts, but the ‘King of Clay’ reigns supreme on clay with a 14-2 lead.
Will fans ever get to see an iconic pair such as Federer and Nadal ever again? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.