The Federer–Nadal rivalry (known colloquially as Fedal) is between two professional tennis players, Roger Federer of Switzerland and Rafael Nadal of Spain. They are currently engaged in a storied rivalry, which many consider to be the greatest in tennis history.[better source needed] They have played 35 times, most recently in the 2017 Australian Open final, and Nadal leads their thirteen-year-old rivalry with an overall record of 23–12.
Federer and Nadal are the only pair of men to have finished six consecutive calendar years as the top two ranked players on the ATP Tour, which they did from 2005–10. This included a record 211 consecutive weeks sharing the top two rankings from July 2005 to August 2009.
Of their 35 matches, 15 have been on clay, 17 have been on hard court, and three have been on grass. The results of their matches are somewhat polarized by playing surface. Federer has a winning record on grass (2–1), while Nadal leads on clay (13–2). Nadal also has the edge over Federer on hard courts (9–8), with Nadal having won 8 of 11 matches on outdoor hard courts and Federer claiming 5 of 6 matches on indoor hard courts. Nadal also leads the head-to-head of their 12 Grand Slam matches (9–3), with five of these wins on the clay courts of Roland Garros, and two of the losses on grass at Wimbledon.
As tournament seedings are based on rankings, with the top two seeds placed on opposite sides of the draw, 22 of Nadal and Federer's 35 matches have been in tournament finals, including an all-time record nine Grand Slam finals and 10 Masters Series finals. Another nine have been semifinals, two have been quarterfinals, with only two taking place before the last-8 stage. In 28 matches out of 35 between Nadal and Federer, the winner of the first set won the match.
From 2006 to 2008, they played in every French Open and Wimbledon final. Their 2008 Wimbledon final was lauded as the greatest match ever by many long-time tennis analysts. Their 2017 Australian Open final was widely regarded as among the most highly anticipated Grand Slam finals of all time due to the tennis history that would be made from either player's victory, the subsequent implications on both player's respective legacies, and the relevance within popular and critical discussions on who between them can claim to be 'the greatest tennis player of all time'.
- 1 History
- 1.1 2004: Miami
- 1.2 2005: Miami, French Open
- 1.3 2006: Dubai, Monte Carlo, Rome, French Open, Wimbledon, Tennis Masters Cup
- 1.4 2007: Monte Carlo, Hamburg, French Open, Wimbledon, Tennis Masters Cup
- 1.5 2008: Monte Carlo, Hamburg, French Open, Wimbledon
- 1.6 2009: Australian Open, Madrid
- 1.7 2010: Madrid, World Tour Finals
- 1.8 2011: Miami, Madrid, French Open, World Tour Finals
- 1.9 2012: Australian Open, Indian Wells
- 1.10 2013: Indian Wells, Rome, Cincinnati, World Tour Finals
- 1.11 2014: Australian Open
- 1.12 2015: Basel
- 1.13 2017: Australian Open
- 2 Analysis
- 3 Relationship and competitive dynamic
- 4 Pairing Federer and Nadal
- 5 List of all head-to-head matches
- 6 Records
- 7 Performance timeline comparison
- 8 Career evolution
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Federer and Nadal played their first match in March 2004 at the third round of the Miami Masters. Nadal, only 17 years old and ranked No. 34 at the time, surprised many by beating the then No. 1 in straight sets.
2005: Miami, French Open
2006: Dubai, Monte Carlo, Rome, French Open, Wimbledon, Tennis Masters Cup
In 2006, Nadal and Federer faced each other in six matches.
Nadal won the first four, beginning with the Dubai final in February played on hard court. This was Federer's first loss of the year and ended his Open era record of 56 consecutive wins on hard courts.
The clay season ensued, and Nadal continued his dominance on clay, defeating Federer in the finals of the Monte Carlo Masters, the Rome Masters, and the French Open, in what was their first Grand Slam final. Federer won the first set quickly, but Nadal fought back and took the next three sets to capture his second French Open title. In the Rome final, Federer held two championship points on Nadal's serve at 5–6 in the fifth set, but failed to convert. Federer then led 5–3 in the fifth-set tiebreaker, but Nadal won the next four points to claim the title.
They faced off again a month later in the final of Wimbledon, which was their first meeting on grass. Federer won in four sets, including a bagel to capture his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title.
They did not meet again until the semifinals of the year-end Masters Cup. Federer won in straight sets, en route to his third Masters Cup title in four years. At year's end, Nadal's career head-to-head advantage had risen to 6–3.
2007: Monte Carlo, Hamburg, French Open, Wimbledon, Tennis Masters Cup
Nadal and Federer faced each other five times in 2007, and Federer won three of their matches.
For the second straight year, Federer and Nadal played in three finals on clay. Nadal won the first meeting in straight sets, winning his third consecutive Monte Carlo title. A few weeks later they met at the Hamburg Masters, where Federer defeated Nadal for the first time on clay and ended his 81-match winning streak on clay.
Their last two meetings in 2007 were also a repeat of 2006: the finals of Wimbledon and the semifinals of the Masters Cup. Once again, Federer won both matches, though their Wimbledon final lasted five sets, instead of the previous year's four sets.
By the end of the year Federer narrowed the head-to-head record to 6–8.
2008: Monte Carlo, Hamburg, French Open, Wimbledon
Federer and Nadal played four times in 2008, and Nadal won all four times, extending his career advantage to 12–6. For the third straight year, Federer and Nadal played in three clay-court finals. Nadal beat Federer in the Monte Carlo Masters for the third straight year, capturing his Open-Era-record fourth consecutive title there. A few weeks later Nadal avenged his only clay-court loss to Federer by defeating him in three sets for his first Hamburg Masters title. Federer had double-break leads in the first sets of both Monte Carlo and Hamburg, but could not close out the sets.
Also for the third straight year, they played in the final of the French Open. Nadal won his fourth consecutive French Open title, by a score of 6–1, 6–3, 6–0. The scoreline puts the match among the most one-sided in Grand Slam finals history. Federer suffered from mononucleosis in 2008, which seriously inhibited his energy levels and movement through most of the early hard-court and clay seasons, and his fitness and training levels did not recover until sometime in 2009.
Nadal and Federer also met in the final of Wimbledon for the third straight year, in the most anticipated match of their rivalry. Amidst rain delays, they played the longest final in Wimbledon history (4 hours and 48 minutes), and Nadal captured the title by winning the fifth set in near darkness. This match broke Federer's Open-Era-record 65-match winning streak on grass, which spanned more than five years.
2009: Australian Open, Madrid
Federer and Nadal played each other only twice in 2009, splitting their matches.
Both players began the year strong, reaching the final of the Australian Open. This was the first hard-court Grand Slam final for Nadal, but Federer was undefeated in eight hard-court finals (five US Open, three Australian). The final was long (4 hours and 23 minutes) and competitive in the first four sets, with Nadal pulling away decisively in the fifth set to secure his first hard-court championship.
Federer rebounded against Nadal at the Madrid Masters (their first match on Spanish soil), defeating him in the final in straight sets. This was a pivotal match because it broke Nadal's five-match winning streak against Federer. The victory by Federer also ended Nadal's 33-match winning streak on clay and foreshadowed the Swiss' historic victory at Roland Garros, which completed his Career Grand Slam.
2010: Madrid, World Tour Finals
In 2010, Federer and Nadal played twice, with Nadal winning the first and Federer winning the second match.
The two met in the final of the Madrid Open, one year after their last match, and Nadal defeated Federer in straight sets.
Federer and Nadal met in the 2010 ATP World Tour Finals' final, marking their third meeting at the year-end championships and their first ever meeting in the finals. Federer continued his indoor dominance against Nadal, winning in three sets. This victory gave Federer a record-tying fifth title at the year-end tournament.
2011: Miami, Madrid, French Open, World Tour Finals
Federer and Nadal played four singles matches, with Nadal winning the first three matches and Federer winning the last match. Their lone doubles match was at the BNP Paribas Open. Federer, partnering with Stanislas Wawrinka, defeated Nadal and Marc López in the semifinals.
In their first singles match of 2011, the two met in the semifinals of the Miami Masters, where Nadal won in straight sets.
They met in the semifinals at the Mutua Madrid Open, and Nadal won in three sets.
They then met in the final of the 2011 French Open, their first Grand Slam meeting since the 2009 Australian Open final. Although it was a competitive match, Nadal again defeated Federer in four sets to win his tenth Grand Slam title and sixth French Open crown. This would be their last meeting at a Grand Slam final until the 2017 Australian Open final.
Their final meeting of the year came in the round-robin stage of the 2011 ATP World Tour Finals. Their match, a rematch of the previous year's final, saw Federer win a lopsided match in straight sets.
2012: Australian Open, Indian Wells
Federer and Nadal first met during 2012 in the semifinals of the 2012 Australian Open. Federer was leading by a set and a break before a 20-minute fireworks delay, due to the celebrations of Australia Day, changed the momentum of the match. Nadal improved his hard-court record over Federer with a win in four sets.
They next met in the semifinals of the Indian Wells Masters, where Federer won the match in straight sets en route to claiming his fourth Indian Wells Masters title.
In August 2012, Nadal revealed his doubt that he would be able to play in the 2012 US Open because of a knee injury which had prevented him from playing since Wimbledon. Federer expressed concern for Nadal, and Nadal ultimately withdrew.
2013: Indian Wells, Rome, Cincinnati, World Tour Finals
Federer and Nadal met four times in 2013 with Nadal prevailing on every occasion against a severely hampered Federer due to two serious back injuries sustained during the 2013 season.
Federer and Nadal met for the first time during the quarterfinals of the Indian Wells Masters. It was the earliest the pair had met in a tournament since 2004. Federer entered the match having suffered a back injury in the previous round and was defeated in straight sets.
On 1 April, by winning the Miami Masters, Andy Murray passed Federer in the ATP Rankings for second place. This marked the first time since 10 November 2003, that neither Federer nor Nadal was ranked in the ATP top 2, a span of an unprecedented 490 weeks.
They finally played a match at the 2013 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, where Nadal unseated the five-time champion in the quarterfinals after Federer played a dazzling first set with crisply struck groundstrokes. At several points, Federer had openings in Nadal service games in the second set, including a 0–30 chance, but Nadal came back to win in three sets. Federer had been hampered by a back injury during most of the summer and had just switched back to his old racquet after experimenting with a larger frame in his previous two tournaments.
Nadal and Federer met in semifinals of the indoor event, 2013 ATP World Tour Finals in the O2 arena. Nadal beat Federer in straight sets. This was Nadal's first win over Federer on indoor hard courts. This would also be Federer's last career match played with his 90-inch racquet before permanently upgrading to a larger frame.
2014: Australian Open
Federer and Nadal had their only meeting of the 2014 season in the semifinals of the Australian Open. Nadal won in straight sets and improved his record to 3–0 against Federer at the Australian Open (9–2 overall in majors). This was the first Grand Slam tournament (and only second tournament overall) that Federer played after switching to a new larger racquet for the first time in his career.
In November 2015, Federer defeated Nadal in three sets in the final of the Swiss Indoors. This was their first encounter on Swiss soil, as Federer captured a seventh title in his hometown of Basel. It was Federer's first victory over Nadal in over 3 and a half years, having lost the previous five meetings.
2017: Australian Open
The rivalry was renewed in the 2017 Australian Open final, their first meeting in a Grand Slam final since 2011. Federer, returning from a six-month layoff from knee injury that saw him miss out most of the 2016 season, came into the tournament seeded 17th, and Nadal seeded 9th. Prior to the match, Nadal had won every match between the two in a Grand Slam tournament since the Wimbledon final in 2007, three of which were in the Australian Open. Federer came back from a break down in the fifth set to take the match, becoming the first man in history to win 18 Grand Slam singles titles and the first man to win at least five titles in three different Grand Slam tournaments each, and denying Nadal's third effort to win the Australian Open title again and also his second opportunity to become the first man in the Open Era to win each Grand Slam in men's singles at least twice. Federer's victory over Nadal in the Australian Open 2017 final also marked his first ever win over Nadal in a Grand Slam match outside the grass courts of Wimbledon.
The rivalry between Federer and Nadal has been a huge part of both men's careers. Their Grand Slam tournament histories are of particular interest, especially their all-time record of nine finals encounters. This includes playing French Open and Wimbledon finals for three consecutive years (2006–08), culminating in what is widely considered the greatest match in tennis history at Wimbledon 2008. Nadal, who had to defeat Federer during each of his first six Grand Slam title runs, possesses a 6–3 advantage in their finals encounters plus three victories in semifinals.
Nadal denied Federer a Career Grand Slam plus two potential Calendar Year Grand Slams (2006–07) by defeating him at the French Open every year from 2005–08. Federer would complete a Career Grand Slam by winning the French title in 2009 after Nadal was upset in the fourth round. Meanwhile, Federer twice denied Nadal from becoming the first man since Björn Borg in 1980 to win the "Channel Slam" (both the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year) by defeating him in their first two Wimbledon finals, but Nadal succeeded the following year. This was the first of three combined Channel Slams with Federer accomplishing it in 2009 followed by Nadal's second in 2010. Federer has also prevented Nadal from winning the Year-End Championships by defeating him in the 2010 finals and eliminating Nadal from the tournament in the 2006 and 2007 semifinals preventing Nadal from becoming only the second man after Andre Agassi to win a Career Grand Slam, a gold singles Olympic medal, and the Year End Championships, a distinction dubbed as a "Career Super Slam" by Sports Illustrated. In their latest match in the 2017 Australian Open final, Federer won a record-breaking 18th singles major while denying Nadal's second opportunity to become the first man in the Open Era to have won each of the Grand Slams twice in men's singles.
Their record six consecutive calendar years atop the rankings from 2005–10 was due to their unprecedented combined performance in the Grand Slam and Masters Series tournaments. During this span, they captured a combined record 21 of the 24 Grand Slam tournament titles (12 for Federer, 9 for Nadal), including a record 11 consecutive titles from 2005–07. They also dominated the Masters Series, combining for 31 of the 54 titles (18 for Nadal, 13 for Federer), including 8 of 9 in 2005 (4 each). Additionally, Federer won 4 of 6 year-end tournaments.
Finally, both men not only possess Open-Era records for consecutive wins on a single surface—Federer on both grass (65) and hard courts (56), Nadal on clay courts (81)—but each of these streaks was broken by the other man. Their respective dominance on grass and clay was the impetus for the "Battle of Surfaces", an exhibition match on a half-grass, half-clay court, which Nadal won with a 12–10 in the deciding tiebreak in May 2007 when both the grass and clay streaks were still active.
Nearly half of the meetings between Federer and Nadal have come on clay which is statistically Nadal's best surface and one of Federer's weaker surfaces. Of their 34 matches, 15 have been on clay, 16 have been on hard court, and 3 have been on grass. Federer has a winning record on his best surface, grass (2–1), while Nadal leads on clay (13–2) and hard court (9–8). Nadal leads in Grand Slam tournament matches (9–3), with five of these wins coming on the clay courts of Roland Garros. On hard courts and grass, Federer holds an edge in overall career win percentage, but trails Nadal in head-to-head results on hard courts.
Analysts, commentators and pundits increasingly recognize that Nadal is just a bad matchup for Federer, as the heavy topspin created by Nadal's groundstrokes combined with his strategy of directing the majority of his serves and groundstrokes to Federer's single-handed backhand keeps Federer on the defensive and makes it harder for Federer to use his aggressive groundstrokes to dominate baseline rallies as he typically does against other opponents. Federer says he is a "different player due to Nadal's presence" citing Nadal's game as a major reason for improvements in areas of his own game.
There are factors that skew the head-to-head tally between Nadal and Federer. Nadal's head-to-head advantage is built on domination on clay and domination during two seasons when Federer was hobbled by illness and injury. The 13–2 record on clay masks the even record of 10–10 on all other surfaces. Also, Nadal's 8–0 advantage in 2008 and 2013, when Federer was clearly hindered by mononucleosis, and severe back injuries distorts a competitive 15–12 record in all other years.
Comparison of Grand Slam tournament titles
As of 2017, Roger Federer holds the all-time record for the most Grand Slam tournament titles with 18. Federer's Grand Slam tournament titles include 10 on hard courts, 7 on grass, and 1 on clay. Nadal has 14 in total: 9 on clay, 3 on hard courts, and 2 on grass.
Both players have won the Career Grand Slam (winning all four majors at least once).
Comparison of Masters 1000 titles
Rafael Nadal holds 28 Masters 1000 titles, with 20 of his titles on clay and 8 on hard courts. Roger Federer has 24, with 18 coming on hard courts and 6 on clay. Nadal is missing three Masters 1000 titles (Miami, Shanghai, and Paris) and Federer is missing two (Monte Carlo, and Rome).
Nadal prevented Federer from winning Monte Carlo three times from 2006 to 2008. He also beat Federer twice in the Rome finals, once in 2006 and again in 2013. The 2006 Rome final, which was won by Nadal in a fifth-set tiebreak, lasted for over five hours and is considered by some to be one of the greatest and most memorable matches ever contested on clay.
In 2005, Federer prevented Nadal from winning Miami in a five-set final. Nadal won the first and second sets, was up a break in the third set, and was two points away from victory before Federer came back from two-sets-down to win. Nadal made it back to the Miami final in 2008, 2011, and 2014 but lost each time.
|Indian Wells Masters||4||3|
|Madrid Open/German Open||6||4|
|Shanghai Masters/Madrid Open||2||1|
Comparison of Year-End Championships
As of 2016, Roger Federer holds the record for Year-End Championship titles with six. While Nadal has not won a Year-End Championship, he has made the finals twice, in 2010 and 2013. Federer defeated Nadal in the 2010 finals and leads their head-to-head for the event 4–1.
The following is a breakdown of their head-to-head results:
- All matches: Nadal, 23–12
- All finals: Nadal, 14–8
- Clay courts: Nadal, 11–2
- Hard courts: Federer, 4–2
- Outdoor: Tied, 2–2
- Indoor: Federer, 2–0
- Grass courts: Federer, 2–1
- Grand Slam matches: Nadal, 9–3
- Australian Open: Nadal, 3–1
- French Open: Nadal, 5–0
- Wimbledon: Federer, 2–1
- Grand Slam finals: Nadal, 6–3
- Australian Open: Tied, 1–1
- French Open: Nadal, 4–0
- Wimbledon: Federer, 2–1
- Tennis Masters Cup/ATP World Tour Finals matches: Federer, 4–1
- Tennis Masters Cup/ATP World Tour Finals finals: Federer, 1–0
- ATP Masters Series/ATP World Tour Masters 1000 matches: Nadal, 12–4
- ATP Masters Series/ATP World Tour Masters 1000 finals: Nadal, 7–3
- Best of five set matches: Nadal, 11–4
- Five-set matches: Tied, 3–3
- Best of three set matches: Nadal, 12–8
- Tie-breaks: Nadal, 11–10
|Hard Court (o)||Clay||Grass||Hard Court (i)||Total|
|Hamburg / Madrid||3||2||3||2|
|Tennis Masters Cup /
ATP World Tour Finals
Nadal and Federer have played 17 of their 35 matches on hard courts, with Nadal holding a 9–8 lead. An important distinction is the relative success of the two players on indoor and outdoor hard courts. In the former, Federer leads Nadal with a 5–1 record, while on outdoor hard courts, Nadal leads 8–3. The quicker conditions and low bounce of the indoor hard courts fit Federer's style, while the slower and high bouncing conditions of most outdoor ones favor Nadal. Federer has defeated Nadal in four out of five encounters they have had at the Year End Championships, including the 2010 final, which are played on indoor hardcourts.
Despite Nadal's success on hard courts, some analysts have criticized his lack of consistency in reaching tournament finals (especially the U.S. Open finals) for skewing the overall head-to-head results. Nadal has said that Federer is the "favourite" on "these kinds of surfaces" (referring to their match at the 2012 Australian Open).
Nadal and Federer have played 15 of their 35 matches on clay with Nadal holding a 13–2 advantage over Federer. From 2005 to 2008, Nadal won every French Open, defeating Federer in each of those tournaments (in the 2005 semifinal and the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011 finals), and won at least 2 of the 3 clay Masters events each year from 2005–2010, defeating Federer in 6 of those. Statistically, Nadal has the highest win percentage on clay of any player in ATP history. As a result, some analysts and players, such as Pat Cash and Conchita Martínez, consider Nadal the greatest clay-court player ever. Nadal has won all of their seven meetings in best of five set matches on clay.
Federer has won the Wimbledon Championships seven times, and Nadal has won the championships twice. Five of Federer's titles were consecutive titles (from 2003 to 2007), and the sixth and seventh titles were won in 2009 and 2012. Federer and Nadal met in three consecutive Wimbledon finals from 2006 to 2008; Federer won the first two finals, while Nadal won the last one. The 2008 Wimbledon final (won by Nadal) has been lauded as the greatest match ever by many long-time tennis analysts.
Federer is considered by many to be the greatest tennis player of all time while Nadal's performance on clay has prompted many experts to regard him as the greatest clay court player and one of the best tennis players of all time.
Federer has been more successful than Nadal on fast courts because he hits a flatter forehand and has a faster serve. Grass and indoor hard courts are one of the faster surfaces, so Federer's flatter shots there result in a lower bouncing, faster moving trajectory. Thus, Nadal's topspin is less effective on such faster courts, but is most effective on slower courts such as clay. Nadal has improved his serving speed and placement over the years, but Federer still serves faster on average and earns more aces and service winners, while Nadal has an overall stronger ground stroke game.
While Nadal is statistically weaker than Federer on both hard and grass courts, Nadal has nonetheless achieved considerable success on both surfaces, including notable wins at the 2008 Summer Olympics, Wimbledon (2008 and 2010), the Australian Open (2009), the US Open (2010 and 2013), and at various hard court Masters series tournaments.
Media and player commentary
During interviews, many fellow and former players have regarded both Federer and Nadal as among the best tennis players of all time. In November 2010, former player Björn Borg stated that he believed Federer to be the greatest player of all time, but "Rafa has the chance to be the greatest player" if he stays healthy.
Former player and commentator John McEnroe was of a similar opinion, noting in 2010 that "there is an argument to be made that Rafael Nadal may be the greatest player eventually, even possibly now." He has subsequently adjusted his opinion on several occasions, in 2013 noting that he thought Nadal was "the greatest player that ever lived"  but later in 2014 bunched Federer, Nadal, Laver and Sampras together as the greatest ever. In July 2015, he reversed his opinion and again backed Roger Federer for the title. In January 2017, after Federer, then 35 years of age and returning to competitive play after a 6-month layoff due to injury, triumphed over Nadal in 5 sets to win the record-breaking 18th major at the 2017 Australian Open, McEnroe remarked that Federer had cemented his status as being the best tennis player of all time, but also left open the possibility that Nadal can be in the running again should he win additional men's singles majors to narrow the gap.
In October 2013, Rod Laver, the only tennis player to achieve the grand slam twice, said "When I look at Federer, with what he's accomplished, against the competition that he's accomplished it with, I'd have to say I would think that Roger is the greatest player,''
At the press conference following his 9th record French Open win in 2014 and a total of 14 Slams, three shy of Federer's 17, Nadal said that he really does not care much about records, "I'll follow my own path. Then, when my career is over, then we'll count." 
In May 2014, eight-time Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi told Singapore's Straits Times newspaper, via aljazeera.com: "I'd put Nadal number one and Federer number two. Federer separated himself from the field for four years. He separated himself from Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt. Nadal had to deal with Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray in the golden age of tennis." 
In November 2014, former world number 1 player Andy Roddick, in noting his support for Federer, explained why he believes that head-to-head results are not a valid factor in determining the greatest of all time, "For me Roger Federer is still ahead in the greatest-ever debate, with Rafael Nadal second. People talk about their head-to-head being the determining factor, but I can’t comprehend a single match-up being the deciding factor. It's about total wins at major tournaments, not an individual match-up, in my mind."
In December 2014, Rafael Nadal's uncle and coach, Toni Nadal, indicated to Spanish radio station Cadena COPE that he believed Federer to be the greatest of all time based on overall statistics and achievements, noting "I think he is (the best of all-time), the numbers say so." A day before the 2017 Australian Open men's singles finals, Toni Nadal further reemphasized his regard on Federer, saying that "When [Federer] will call it a career, the greatest player in the tennis history won't be there anymore. Looking at titles, he is the greatest at the moment."
In March 2015, former player Pete Sampras made similar arguments about Federer, "You look at the numbers of what he's been able to do, you have to say he's the greatest we’ve seen" These comments were echoed by Boris Becker in July 2015, "Great respect for Roger Federer! He is our greatest of all time" 
Relationship and competitive dynamic
Both Federer and Nadal's personal and professional relationship is good-natured and gracious. Though they are both highly competitive, they maintain a healthy regard for each other and have had virtually no source of personal animosity. The two have made slight criticisms of one another in the past, nevertheless. For example, Federer complained of Nadal's slow, deliberate style of play on the eve of the 2008 Wimbledon final. Nadal criticized Federer before the 2012 Australian Open for his failure to be more vocal about players' grievances on issues such as scheduling and prize money. He subsequently apologized for making his views public, however, and both players maintained that they still enjoyed a good relationship and had high respect for each other, which can often be seen in interviews. Nadal was also once seen watching Federer play a match in his box, and their family members would congratulate each other on match wins.
Despite their cordial relationship, both men have a somewhat different attitude towards their rivalry. When Federer was securely atop the tennis world he was ambivalent towards the notion of a rivalry with an opponent five years younger than himself. But after their memorable 2008 Wimbledon final he had no choice but to acknowledge its significance, even admitting "it definitely becomes more and more special the more times we play against each other." A few weeks later, after Nadal had officially surpassed him in the rankings, Federer offered this compliment: "Look at what he had to achieve to get it. That's what I like to see." Nadal has always cherished the rivalry because he looks up to Federer as both a role model and a measuring stick for success.
When interest in their rivalry increased, both Federer and Nadal collaborated to arrange occasional charity exhibition matches to benefit their charities' philanthropic interests. The most recent was the Match for Africa, played on 21 December 2010 in Zurich, Switzerland, which Federer won, and a follow-up match played in Madrid on the following day, titled "Joining Forces for the Benefit of Children", which Nadal won.
The rivalry has also increased overall interest in tennis. The highly anticipated 2008 Wimbledon final drew strong television ratings for tennis in both the U.S. and across Europe. The match was also featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, which was the first time in years that tennis had made its cover.
Pairing Federer and Nadal
- From the 2003 Wimbledon Championships to the 2011 French Open, Federer and Nadal have won an unprecedented 26 out of 32 Major titles. In this time, both men have also completed the Career Grand Slam (Nadal has also completed the Career Golden Slam by winning the 2008 Beijing Olympics).
- From Nadal's first Grand Slam tournament victory at the 2005 French Open until the 2011 French Open, Federer and Nadal had won 22 of 25 Major titles (12 for Federer, 10 for Nadal). The exceptions were the 2008 and 2011 Australian Open, won by Novak Djokovic, and the 2009 US Open, won by Juan Martín del Potro.
- Federer and Nadal are the only No. 1 and No. 2 pair in the open era to contest the French Open and Wimbledon men's finals back to back in a calendar year. They are also the only pair in the history of tennis to contest both of these finals back to back for three consecutive years (2006–08).
- In the history of tennis, Federer and Nadal are the only pair to face each other in nine Grand Slam singles finals (2006–08, 2011 French Open, 2006–08 Wimbledon, 2009, 2017 Australian Open). This broke the previous record of seven finals set by Bill Tilden and William Johnston (1919–25 U.S. Championships). Their match at the 2012 Australian Open also marked a 10th time two players had faced each other in Grand Slam men's singles matches, tying the record set by John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl. This record has now been surpassed by Federer-Djokovic when they met for the 13th time in a Major at the 2012 Wimbledon semifinals.
- Federer and Nadal are the only No. 1 and No. 2 pair to win 11 consecutive Grand Slam singles tournaments between them (from the 2005 French Open to the 2007 US Open). In this period, Federer won 3 consecutive titles at both Wimbledon and the US Open and 2 consecutive titles at the Australian Open, while Nadal won 3 consecutive French Open titles.
- During the Open Era, only two pairs of players have played each other in the final of the same Grand Slam singles tournament three consecutive years: Becker–Edberg (1988–90 Wimbledon) and Federer-Nadal (2006–08 French Open and 2006–08 Wimbledon).
- Federer and Nadal are the only pair to win at least four consecutive finals at three different Majors during the same period (2005–08 and 2010–14 French Open for Nadal, 2003–07 Wimbledon and 2004–08 US Open for Federer).
- From the 2004 Wimbledon Championships to the 2011 French Open, at least one of them appeared in 25 of 28 Major finals, winning all of them except the 2005 Australian Open, the 2008 Australian Open, the 2011 Australian Open, and the 2009 US Open.
- Federer and Nadal have combined to win 8 consecutive Wimbledon (2003–10) and 10 consecutive French Open (2005–14).
- Federer and Nadal won the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open triple for 4 consecutive years (2005–08).
- One of only two pairs to have faced each other in a Major, having both already completed the career Grand Slam. They did this four times. The other pair Roy Emerson and Rod Laver met on two occasions after both completing the career Grand Slam.
- Federer and Nadal have played four five-set Grand Slam finals (Wimbledon 2007 and 2008, Australian Open 2009 and 2017). This is the largest number of five-set Grand Slam finals contested by any pair of players in the Open Era.
List of all head-to-head matches
|Legend (2004–2008)||Legend (2009–present)||Federer||Nadal|
|Grand Slam||Grand Slam||3||9|
|Tennis Masters Cup||ATP World Tour Finals||4||1|
|ATP Masters Series||ATP World Tour Masters 1000||4||12|
|ATP International Series Gold||ATP World Tour 500 Series||1||1|
|2.||2005||Miami||Masters||Hard||Final||Federer||2–6, 6–7(4–7), 7–6(7–5), 6–3, 6–1||3:43||5/5||1||1|
|3.||2005||Roland Garros||Major||Clay||Semifinals||Nadal||6–3, 4–6, 6–4, 6–3||2:47||4/5||1||2|
|4.||2006||Dubai||500||Hard||Final||Nadal||2–6, 6–4, 6–4||1:53||3/3||1||3|
|5.||2006||Monte Carlo||Masters||Clay||Final||Nadal||6–2, 6–7(2–7), 6–3, 7–6(7–5)||3:50||4/5||1||4|
|6.||2006||Rome||Masters||Clay||Final||Nadal||6–7(0–7), 7–6(7–5), 6–4, 2–6, 7–6(7–5)||5:05||5/5||1||5|
|7.||2006||Roland Garros||Major||Clay||Final||Nadal||1–6, 6–1, 6–4, 7–6(7–4)||3:02||4/5||1||6|
|8.||2006||Wimbledon||Major||Grass||Final||Federer||6–0, 7–6(7–5), 6–7(2–7), 6–3||2:58||4/5||2||6|
|9.||2006||Tennis Masters Cup||Tour Finals||Hard (i)||Semifinals||Federer||6–4, 7–5||1:53||2/3||3||6|
|10.||2007||Monte Carlo||Masters||Clay||Final||Nadal||6–4, 6–4||1:35||2/3||3||7|
|11.||2007||Hamburg||Masters||Clay||Final||Federer||2–6, 6–2, 6–0||1:55||3/3||4||7|
|12.||2007||Roland Garros||Major||Clay||Final||Nadal||6–3, 4–6, 6–3, 6–4||3:10||4/5||4||8|
|13.||2007||Wimbledon||Major||Grass||Final||Federer||7–6(9–7), 4–6, 7–6(7–3), 2–6, 6–2||3:45||5/5||5||8|
|14.||2007||Tennis Masters Cup||Tour Finals||Hard (i)||Semifinals||Federer||6–4, 6–1||0:59||2/3||6||8|
|15.||2008||Monte Carlo||Masters||Clay||Final||Nadal||7–5, 7–5||1:43||2/3||6||9|
|16.||2008||Hamburg||Masters||Clay||Final||Nadal||7–5, 6–7(3–7), 6–3||2:52||3/3||6||10|
|17.||2008||Roland Garros||Major||Clay||Final||Nadal||6–1, 6–3, 6–0||1:48||3/5||6||11|
|18.||2008||Wimbledon||Major||Grass||Final||Nadal||6–4, 6–4, 6–7(5–7), 6–7(8–10), 9–7||4:48||5/5||6||12|
|19.||2009||Australian Open||Major||Hard||Final||Nadal||7–5, 3–6, 7–6(7–3), 3–6, 6–2||4:23||5/5||6||13|
|22.||2010||ATP World Tour Finals||Tour Finals||Hard (i)||Final||Federer||6–3, 3–6, 6–1||1:37||3/3||8||14|
|24.||2011||Madrid||Masters||Clay||Semifinals||Nadal||5–7, 6–1, 6–3||2:36||3/3||8||16|
|25.||2011||Roland Garros||Major||Clay||Final||Nadal||7–5, 7–6(7–3), 5–7, 6–1||3:40||4/5||8||17|
|26.||2011||ATP World Tour Finals||Tour Finals||Hard (i)||RR||Federer||6–3, 6–0||1:00||2/3||9||17|
|27.||2012||Australian Open||Major||Hard||Semifinals||Nadal||6–7(5–7), 6–2, 7–6(7–5), 6–4||3:42||4/5||9||18|
|28.||2012||Indian Wells||Masters||Hard||Semifinals||Federer||6–3, 6–4||1:31||2/3||10||18|
|29.||2013||Indian Wells||Masters||Hard||Quarterfinals||Nadal||6–4, 6–2||1:24||2/3||10||19|
|31.||2013||Cincinnati||Masters||Hard||Quarterfinals||Nadal||5–7, 6–4, 6–3||2:14||3/3||10||21|
|32.||2013||ATP World Tour Finals||Tour Finals||Hard (i)||Semifinals||Nadal||7–5, 6–3||1:19||2/3||10||22|
|33.||2014||Australian Open||Major||Hard||Semifinals||Nadal||7–6(7–4), 6–3, 6–3||2:24||3/5||10||23|
|34.||2015||Basel||500||Hard (i)||Final||Federer||6–3, 5–7, 6–3||2:03||3/3||11||23|
|35.||2017||Australian Open||Major||Hard||Final||Federer||6–4, 3–6, 6–1, 3–6, 6–3||3:37||5/5||12||23|
|1.||2004||Indian Wells||Hard||R32||Nadal/Robredo||5–7, 6–4, 6–3||Federer/Allegro||0||1|
|3.||2011||Indian Wells||Hard||Semifinals||Federer/Wawrinka||7–5, 6–3||Nadal/M. López||1||2|
On 2 May 2007 they played in the "Battle of Surfaces" on a hybrid court that was half clay and half grass. This match was held at the Palma Arena in Palma, the capital city of Nadal's native Mallorca. Nadal won 7–5, 4–6, 7–6(12–10).
On 21 December 2010 they played in Zurich, Switzerland on a hard court a charity tennis match for the Roger Federer Foundation. Federer won 4–6, 6–3, 6–3. They played another exhibition match on 22 December 2010 in Madrid, Spain. Nadal won 7–6(7–3), 4–6, 6–1. This was a charity tennis match for the Fundación Rafa Nadal (Rafael Nadal Foundation).
On 1 January 2011 they played in the final of the knockout exhibition tournament; the Mubadala World Tennis Championship on a hard court. Federer had beaten Söderling in the previous round and Nadal had beaten Berdych in the previous round. Nadal won the encounter by a score of 7–6(7–4), 7–6(7–3).
On 31 December 2011 they played again at Mubadala 2011 Mubadala World Tennis Championship (December) on a hard court, this time for third place. Nadal won again 6–1, 7–5.
On 12 December 2015 they played two matches in New Delhi, India at 2015 International Premier Tennis League season on a hard court. Nadal won both a set of singles against Federer 6–5(7–4) and, paired with Rohan Bopanna, a doubles set against Roger Federer and Marin Cilic 6–4 to lead the Indian Aces to a 30–19 victory over the UAE Royals.
- Only pair in men's Open Era history to have met 9 times in Grand Slam finals
- This rivalry is ranked eighth in terms of matches played in Open Era
Performance timeline comparison
Grand Slam tournaments
- Bold = players met during this tournament
By Age (end of season)
Year-End ranking timeline
ATP Year-End ranking timeline by age
|Year End Ranking||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||24||25||26||27||28||29||30||31||32||33||34||35|
Federer and Nadal were born just under four years and 10 months apart. Federer's birthday is 8 August 1981, while Nadal's is 3 June 1986. A different viewpoint of their career evolution is offered by taking the season they ended with an age of 18 as starting point, and comparing their accomplishments at the same age. For instance in 2007, Federer finished the season being 26 years old having accumulated a career record of twelve Major titles, and ranked No.1. By comparison, Nadal finished the 2012 season also aged 26, having accumulated eleven Major titles in total, and being ranked No.2.
- () = active record (updated Monday 30 January 2017)
|Age at end of season||18||19||20||21||22||23||24||25||26||27||28||29||30||31||32||33||34||35||36|
|Grand Slam titles||Federer||0||0||0||0||1||4||6||9||12||13||15||16||16||17||17||17||17||17||(18)|
|Grand Slam match wins||Federer||0||7||20||26||39||61||85||112||138||162||188||208||228||247||260||279||297||307||(314)|
|Masters 1000 titles||Federer||0||0||0||1||1||4||8||12||14||14||16||17||18||21||21||23||24||24||(24)|
|Total match wins||Federer||15||51||100||158||236||310||391||483||551||617||678||743||807||878||923||996||1059||1080||(1087)|
|Weeks at number 1||Federer||0||0||0||0||0||48||100||152||204||237||262||285||285||302||302||302||302||302||(302)|
Titles by tournaments played comparison
Another way to view their respective careers and evolution is to look at the progression of titles won by the number of tournaments played to win each of their titles at each level of competition including Grand Slams, ATP World Tour Masters 1000 (formerly ATP Masters Series), ATP World Tour Finals (formerly Tennis Masters Cup), Olympic Games, ATP World Tour 500 Series (formerly ATP International Series Gold), and ATP World Tour 250 Series (formerly ATP International Series). For example, Federer won his 14th Grand Slam title at his 40th Grand Slam Tournament, while Nadal won his 14th at his 38th Grand Slam Tournament.
|Singles title #||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||24||25||26||27||28|
|Federer||won at Grand Slam #||17||19||21||22||25||26||27||29||30||31||33||34||38||40||41||43||53||69|
|Federer||won at ATP Masters 1000 #||22||35||38||39||41||42||44||45||46||47||50||52||57||59||75||77||84||94||95||97||99||112||113||119|
|Federer||won at ATP Tour Finals #||2||3||5||6||9||10|
|Federer||won at Olympic Games #|
|Federer||won at ATP 500 event #||12||14||15||17||18||19||21||22||25||27||28||29||35||36||37||38||39|
|Federer||won at ATP 250 event #||23||30||40||41||42||45||46||47||48||49||50||51||52||53||54||55||56||57||62||63||66||69||70||71|
Federer–Nadal Grand Slam era (2003–Present)
|Year||Australian Open||French Open||Wimbledon||US Open|
|2003||Andre Agassi||Juan Carlos Ferrero||Roger Federer||Andy Roddick|
|2004||Roger Federer||Gastón Gaudio||Roger Federer||Roger Federer|
|2005||Marat Safin||Rafael Nadal||Roger Federer||Roger Federer|
|2006||Roger Federer||Rafael Nadal||Roger Federer||Roger Federer|
|2007||Roger Federer||Rafael Nadal||Roger Federer||Roger Federer|
|2008||Novak Djokovic||Rafael Nadal||Rafael Nadal||Roger Federer|
|2009||Rafael Nadal||Roger Federer||Roger Federer||Juan Martín del Potro|
|2010||Roger Federer||Rafael Nadal||Rafael Nadal||Rafael Nadal|
|2011||Novak Djokovic||Rafael Nadal||Novak Djokovic||Novak Djokovic|
|2012||Novak Djokovic||Rafael Nadal||Roger Federer||Andy Murray|
|2013||Novak Djokovic||Rafael Nadal||Andy Murray||Rafael Nadal|
|2014||Stan Wawrinka||Rafael Nadal||Novak Djokovic||Marin Čilić|
|2015||Novak Djokovic||Stan Wawrinka||Novak Djokovic||Novak Djokovic|
|2016||Novak Djokovic||Novak Djokovic||Andy Murray||Stan Wawrinka|
Combined singles performance timeline (best result)
|Grand Slam tournaments|
|Australian Open||Q1||3R||3R||4R||4R||W||SF||W||W||SF||W||W||SF||F||SF||F||QF||SF||W||6 / 18|
|French Open||1R||4R||QF||1R||1R||3R||W||W||W||W||W||W||W||W||W||W||QF||3R||10 / 18|
|Wimbledon||1R||1R||QF||1R||W||W||W||W||W||W||W||W||F||W||2R||F||F||SF||9 / 18|
|US Open||Q2||3R||4R||4R||4R||W||W||W||W||W||F||W||F||QF||W||SF||F||4R||7 / 17|
|ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and ATP World Tour Finals|
|Indian Wells||A||Q1||1R||3R||2R||W||W||W||W||SF||W||SF||F||W||W||F||F||SF||7 / 16|
|Miami||1R||2R||QF||F||QF||4R||W||W||QF||F||SF||SF||F||SF||A||F||3R||2R||2 / 17|
|Monte Carlo||1R||1R||QF||2R||3R||A||W||W||W||W||W||W||W||W||F||F||SF||W||9 / 17|
|Rome||A||1R||3R||1R||F||2R||W||W||W||QF||W||W||F||W||W||F||F||QF||7 / 17|
|Madrid1||A||1R||1R||W||3R||W||W||A||W||W||W||W||F||W||W||W||F||SF||10 / 16|
|Canada||A||1R||A||1R||SF||W||W||W||F||W||QF||F||3R||A||W||F||QF||A||5 / 14|
|Cincinnati||A||1R||A||1R||2R||1R||W||QF||W||SF||W||W||QF||W||W||W||W||3R||8 / 16|
|Shanghai2||A||2R||2R||QF||SF||2R||W||W||F||SF||F||F||3R||SF||SF||W||SF||2R||3 / 17|
|Paris||A||1R||2R||QF||QF||A||A||A||F||QF||SF||SF||W||A||SF||QF||QF||A||1 / 12|
|ATP Finals||Did Not Qualify||SF||W||W||F||W||W||RR||SF||W||W||F||F||F||F||A||6 / 14|
Federer–Nadal ATP world No. 1 era
|Player||Start date||End date||Weeks||Total|
|Federer, RogerRoger Federer||February 2, 2004||August 17, 2008||237||237|
|Nadal, RafaelRafael Nadal||August 18, 2008||July 5, 2009||46||46|
|Roger Federer (2)||July 6, 2009||June 6, 2010||48||285|
|Rafael Nadal (2)||June 7, 2010||July 3, 2011||56||102|
|Novak Djokovic||July 4, 2011||July 8, 2012||53||53|
|Roger Federer (3)||July 9, 2012||November 4, 2012||17||302|
|Novak Djokovic (2)||November 5, 2012||October 6, 2013||48||101|
|Rafael Nadal (3)||October 7, 2013||July 6, 2014||39||141|
- Big Four
- List of tennis rivalries
- Djokovic–Federer rivalry
- Djokovic–Nadal rivalry
- Murray–Nadal rivalry
- Federer–Murray rivalry
- Roger Federer career statistics
- List of career achievements by Roger Federer
- Rafael Nadal career statistics
- List of career achievements by Rafael Nadal
- List of Grand Slam men's singles champions
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Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal. Time span: '04-present (18 matches). Head to head: Nadal 12, Federer 6. Grand Slam finals: Six; Nadal leads 4–2. Wimbledon: Three finals, 2006, 2007; 2008; Federer won first two, Nadal won Sunday's epic. After Sunday there can be no doubt these two now rank alongside the great tennis rivalries.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Roger Federer.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rafael Nadal.|
- Article on the Federer-Nadal rivalry at the ATP's official site
- Head to Head player details at the ATP's official site
- Federer / Nadal: The Head-to-Head Anomaly Article on the Statistical Anomaly of the Federer-Nadal Head-to-Head
- Super Match 2006 Part one of the Seoul match, there are 9 parts which can be found on the side of the video
- Hidden numbers on the Federer-Nadal H2H