It was 17 years ago, it was exactly March 28, 2004 and on that date began what will be remembered by tennis fans as the greatest rivalry of all time. A young and talented challenged what was already considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time, surprisingly it was Rafael Nadal who won with a double 6-3 and started his true dynasty. We have seen these two players compete on multiple occasions, simple matches or Grand Slam finals, almost always high-tension challenges that saw one or the other win. Rafael Nadal is ahead in the previous with 24 wins and 16 defeats, the two have not challenged each other since the 2019 Wimbledon semi-final (not counting the performances) which saw the Swiss triumph. Despite the many losses he suffered, one of Roger Federer’s greatest and best memories comes from a challenge against Rafael Nadal, it was the final of the Australian Open 2017 and no one would have expected yet another great act from the Fedal. The two players share the record for Grand Slam titles (both at 20) and together with Novak Djokovic are among the three most successful players in history. Rafael Nadal shed some light on his relationship with Roger Federer during a recent conversation with Santander, one of his sponsors. Nadal revealed that despite the fact that he and Federer get along very well, they are not tell-each-other-everything kind of friends.
Rafael Nadal on the claycourt season
“We are very good companions and as the time went on, our relationship improved,” Rafael Nadal said. “We are not close friends; I would not tell him that my knee hurts before facing him. But we can call each other anytime and speak about anything. I spoke with him just today!” Nadal expressed his desire to be fully ready for the claycourt season, adding that it is the ‘most important time of the year’ for him. “I want to be competitive and well-prepared heading into Monte Carlo and the whole clay-court swing which is the most important time of the year for me,” the Mallorcan said. “I am working very hard for that.” While Nadal’s 13th French Open title saw him draw level with the Swiss’ 20 career Grand Slam titles, the Serb took his tally to 18 after lifting the championship trophy at Melbourne Park yet again. The current World Number 1 won a record ninth Australian Open title this year, further reinforcing his credentials on concrete. As for Nadal, though he had a measure of success on grass and hard courts, he remains the undisputed ‘King of Clay’. An unprecedented 13th French Open title last year further reaffirmed his status on his favorite surface.