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Federer–Nadal rivalry

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Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, on their respective favorite surfaces, grass and clay.

The Federer–Nadal rivalry is between professional tennis players Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, two of the greatest tennis players of all time.

They have played each other 40 times, with Nadal leading the head to head 24–16. Their most recent encounter was in the semifinal of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships where Federer defeated Nadal in four sets. Of their 40 matches, 20 have been on hard court (14 of them in outdoor hard court and 6 on indoor hard court), 16 have been on clay, and 4 have been on grass. Federer leads on hard court (11–9), grass (3–1), and indoor hard court (5–1). Nadal leads on clay (14–2) and outdoor hard court (8–6). Nadal leads 14–10 in finals. A total of 14 matches have been in Grand Slams with Nadal leading 10–4.[1][2] Nadal leads 6–0 at the French Open and 3–1 at the Australian Open, while Federer leads 3–1 at Wimbledon. The two have yet to meet in the US Open.

Federer with 20 total major titles, and Nadal with 19, are first and second on the men's all-time list for the most majors titles, and hold numerous other records between them. Together they have won 11 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments, from the 2005 French Open to the 2007 US Open, as well as 6 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments on two occasions; from the 2008 French Open to the 2009 Wimbledon Championships and from the 2017 Australian Open to the 2018 French Open. They 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 to 2010 and seven times overall, including 2017. This includes a record 211 consecutive weeks sharing the top two rankings from July 2005 to August 2009.

As tournament seedings are based on rankings, with the top two seeds placed on opposite sides of the draw, 25 of Nadal and Federer's 40 matches have been in tournament finals, including an all-time record nine Grand Slam finals and 12 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 finals. Another ten have been semifinals, two have been quarterfinals, with only three taking place before the last-8 stage.[3] In 33 out of 40 matches 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.[a] Their 2017 Australian Open final was one of the more highly anticipated major finals in tennis history, in part due to the relevance within popular discussions on their placement in greatest of all time listings.[b] Other matches considered particularly notable include the 2006 Italian Open final, 2007 Wimbledon final, and 2009 Australian Open final, with each match going to five sets.

Contents

History[edit]

2004: Miami[edit]

Federer and Nadal played their first match in March 2004 at the third round of the Miami Masters.[17] Nadal, only 17 years old and ranked No. 34 at the time,[18] surprised many by beating the then No. 1 in straight sets.

2005: Miami, French Open[edit]

Their second meeting was one year later, again in Miami, but this time in a best-of-five-set final. Federer recovered from a two-set deficit to win in five sets.[19]

They played again two months later in the semifinals of the French Open, which was their first match on clay. Nadal defeated Federer in four sets en route to his first Grand Slam title.

2006: Dubai, Monte Carlo, Rome, French Open, Wimbledon, Masters Cup[edit]

Nadal serves to Federer during the 2006 Wimbledon final.
Federer celebrates his eighth Grand Slam title after a win over Nadal.

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.[20]

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,[21] 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.[3] 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. At five hours and five minutes, this is the longest match Federer and Nadal have ever contested.

They faced off again a month later in the final of Wimbledon, which was their first meeting on grass. Federer won in four sets to capture his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title with two sets going to tiebreakers.[22][23]

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, Masters Cup[edit]

Federer in the finals of Monte Carlo 2007

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, ending Nadal's 81-match winning streak on clay.

Nadal in the finals of Monte Carlo 2007.

Their next encounter was the French Open final, and Nadal won their much-anticipated rematch in four sets, capturing his third consecutive French Open title.[3]

Their last two meetings in 2007 were also a repeat of 2006: the final of Wimbledon and the semifinal of the Masters Cup. Once again, Federer won both matches, though their Wimbledon final lasted five sets, in a match which was almost universally praised as the greatest Wimbledon final since Borg–McEnroe in 1980.[24][25]

At the end of the year, on the other hand, their Masters Cup match was the shortest match of their rivalry, lasting less than an hour. By the end of the year Federer narrowed his head-to-head deficit, with the record standing at 6–8 in Nadal's favour.

2008: Monte Carlo, Hamburg, French Open, Wimbledon[edit]

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, they played in three finals during the clay-court. Nadal defeated Federer in Monte Carlo for the third straight year, capturing his Open-Era-record fourth consecutive title there.[3] 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.

Federer and Nadal during the 2008 Wimbledon final

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.[3][26]

Nadal and Federer also met in the final of Wimbledon for the third straight year, in the most anticipated match of their rivalry.[27][28][28][29] Amidst rain delays, they played the longest final in Wimbledon history (4 hours and 48 minutes), and Nadal captured the title, winning a fifth set that finished in near darkness.[4][5][6][7] This match broke Federer's Open-Era-record 65-match winning streak on grass, which had spanned more than five years.[30]

2009: Australian Open, Madrid[edit]

Federer in the finals of Australian Open 2009.

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).[31] 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.[32][31][33]

Nadal in the finals of Australian Open 2009

On clay, Federer rebounded against Nadal at the Madrid Masters, their first match in Spain, defeating him in the final in straight sets.[34] 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 the French Open, which completed his Career Grand Slam.

2010: Madrid, World Tour Finals[edit]

In 2010, Federer and Nadal played twice, with Nadal winning the first and Federer winning the second match.

The two met on clay in the final of the Madrid Open, one year after their last match, and Nadal defeated Federer in straight sets.

They then met on an indoor hard court in the final of the World Tour Finals, 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.

Federer and Nadal met in the finals of the Year-End Championships for the first time in 2010.

2011: Miami, Madrid, French Open, World Tour Finals[edit]

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 Indian Wells. Federer, partnering with Stanislas Wawrinka, defeated Nadal and Marc López in the semifinals.

In their first singles match that year, which took place during the early hard-court season, the two met in the semifinals of the Miami Masters, where Nadal won in straight sets.[35]

They then met on clay in the semifinals at the Madrid Open, and Nadal won in three sets.[36] Later in the clay season, they met in the final of the French Open, their first Grand Slam tournament 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 denied Federer an opportunity to become the first man in the open era to have won all four Grand Slam tournaments twice.[37] 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 World Tour Finals. Their match, a rematch of the previous year's final, saw Federer win a lopsided match in straight sets.[38]

2012: Australian Open, Indian Wells[edit]

Federer defeated Nadal in a memorable first meeting at Indian Wells that included a rain delay on match point.

Federer and Nadal met twice in 2012, both times in the early hard-court season, splitting their matches. They first met during 2012 in the semifinal at the Australian Open. Federer was leading by a set and a break before a 20-minute fireworks delay due to the celebrations of Australia Day. After the delay, Nadal came back to win in four sets, improving his hard-court record over Federer.

They next met in the semifinal at Indian Wells, where Federer won the match in straight sets en route to claiming his fourth title at that tournament.

2013: Indian Wells, Rome, Cincinnati, World Tour Finals[edit]

Federer and Nadal met four times in 2013 with Nadal prevailing on every occasion.

Federer and Nadal met for the first time in the quarterfinals of the Indian Wells Masters. It was the earliest stage the pair had met at within a tournament since 2004, due to their top seedings for most of the intervening years. Nadal won in straight sets.[39][40]

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 (Novak Djokovic had taken the number 1 spot in 2011),[41] a span of an unprecedented 490 weeks.

During the clay-court season, Nadal defeated Federer in the final of the Rome Masters in two sets.[42]

In the second half of the season, they met played in the quarterfinals at the Cincinnati Open, where Nadal unseated the five-time champion in the quarterfinals in three sets. Federer had just switched back to his old racquet after experimenting with a larger frame in his previous two tournaments.[43] They next met in the semifinal of the World Tour Finals at the O2 arena, with Nadal prevailing 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 upgrading to a larger frame.

2014: Australian Open[edit]

Federer and Nadal had their only meeting of the 2014 season in the semifinal 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 that Federer played after switching to a new larger racquet.

2015: Basel[edit]

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, Indian Wells, Miami, Shanghai[edit]

Federer defeated Nadal to capture a record 18th Grand Slam title.

Federer and Nadal played four times in 2017, with Federer prevailing on all four occasions. This marked the first time in their rivalry that Federer confronted and went undefeated against Nadal multiple times in a single tennis season.

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 was 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 tournament in men's singles at least twice. Federer's victory over Nadal in the Australian Open 2017 final also marked his first win over Nadal in a Grand Slam singles match outside the grass courts of Wimbledon.

They met again at Indian Wells in the round of 16, only their second-ever meeting before the quarterfinal stage in any tournament. Federer prevailed in straight sets; it was the first time he had won three matches in a row against Nadal. Their 37th meeting came in the Miami final. This was their first meeting in a final on American soil since the 2005 Miami final, and Federer won in straight sets, his 4th consecutive win over Nadal.

In the 2017 Laver Cup Nadal and Federer played doubles together for the first time, against Sam Querrey/Jack Sock, and won in a match tiebreak.[44]

Federer and Nadal met at the Shanghai Masters for the first time, contesting the final. Federer won in straight sets, claiming a fifth consecutive win over Nadal. This was the first time they had contested a match as the top two ranked players in the world since the 2010 ATP Finals.

Federer's newfound success against Nadal has been ascribed to the improvement in the backhand, which he has been hitting harder and more easily returning Nadal's high bouncing forehand with the larger racquet.[45]

2019: French Open, Wimbledon[edit]

In 2019 Federer and Nadal have met twice, with each one prevailing once. They met in the semifinal of the French Open with Nadal ending Federer's 5-match winning streak by prevailing in straight sets, before going on to win the tournament for his twelfth title there.

In their first Wimbledon meeting since 2008, they met in semifinals of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships, where Federer defeated Nadal in four sets.

List of all head-to-head matches[edit]

ATP, Davis Cup, and Grand Slam main draw results included.

Legend (2004–2008) Legend (2009–present) Federer Nadal
Grand Slam Grand Slam 4 10
Tennis Masters Cup ATP World Tour Finals 4 1
ATP Masters Series ATP World Tour Masters 1000 7 12
ATP International Series Gold ATP World Tour 500 Series 1 1
Total 16 24

Singles[edit]

Federer–Nadal: 40 (16–24)

No. Year Tournament Series Surface Round Winner Score Length Sets Federer Nadal
1. 2004 United States Miami Open Masters Hard Round of 32 Nadal 6–3, 6–3 1:10 2/3 0 1
2. 2005 United States Miami Open 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 France French Open Major Clay Semifinals Nadal 6–3, 4–6, 6–4, 6–3 2:47 4/5 1 2
4. 2006 United Arab Emirates Dubai Championships 500 Hard Final Nadal 2–6, 6–4, 6–4 1:53 3/3 1 3
5. 2006 Monaco Monte-Carlo Masters Masters Clay Final Nadal 6–2, 6–7(2–7), 6–3, 7–6(7–5) 3:50 4/5 1 4
6. 2006 Italy Italian Open 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 France French Open Major Clay Final Nadal 1–6, 6–1, 6–4, 7–6(7–4) 3:02 4/5 1 6
8. 2006 United Kingdom 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 China Tennis Masters Cup Tour Finals Hard (i) Semifinals Federer 6–4, 7–5 1:53 2/3 3 6
10. 2007 Monaco Monte-Carlo Masters Masters Clay Final Nadal 6–4, 6–4 1:35 2/3 3 7
11. 2007 Germany Hamburg Masters Masters Clay Final Federer 2–6, 6–2, 6–0 1:55 3/3 4 7
12. 2007 France French Open Major Clay Final Nadal 6–3, 4–6, 6–3, 6–4 3:10 4/5 4 8
13. 2007 United Kingdom 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 China Tennis Masters Cup Tour Finals Hard (i) Semifinals Federer 6–4, 6–1 0:59 2/3 6 8
15. 2008 Monaco Monte-Carlo Masters Masters Clay Final Nadal 7–5, 7–5 1:43 2/3 6 9
16. 2008 Germany Hamburg Masters Masters Clay Final Nadal 7–5, 6–7(3–7), 6–3 2:52 3/3 6 10
17. 2008 France French Open Major Clay Final Nadal 6–1, 6–3, 6–0 1:48 3/5 6 11
18. 2008 United Kingdom 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 Australia Australian Open Major Hard Final Nadal 7–5, 3–6, 7–6(7–3), 3–6, 6–2 4:23 5/5 6 13
20. 2009 Spain Madrid Open Masters Clay Final Federer 6–4, 6–4 1:26 2/3 7 13
21. 2010 Spain Madrid Open Masters Clay Final Nadal 6–4, 7–6(7–5) 2:10 2/3 7 14
22. 2010 United Kingdom ATP World Tour Finals Tour Finals Hard (i) Final Federer 6–3, 3–6, 6–1 1:37 3/3 8 14
23. 2011 United States Miami Open Masters Hard Semifinals Nadal 6–3, 6–2 1:18 2/3 8 15
24. 2011 Spain Madrid Open Masters Clay Semifinals Nadal 5–7, 6–1, 6–3 2:36 3/3 8 16
25. 2011 France French Open Major Clay Final Nadal 7–5, 7–6(7–3), 5–7, 6–1 3:40 4/5 8 17
26. 2011 United Kingdom ATP World Tour Finals Tour Finals Hard (i) Round Robin Federer 6–3, 6–0 1:00 2/3 9 17
27. 2012 Australia 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 United States Indian Wells Masters Masters Hard Semifinals Federer 6–3, 6–4 1:31 2/3 10 18
29. 2013 United States Indian Wells Masters Masters Hard Quarterfinals Nadal 6–4, 6–2 1:24 2/3 10 19
30. 2013 Italy Italian Open Masters Clay Final Nadal 6–1, 6–3 1:08 2/3 10 20
31. 2013 United States Cincinnati Masters Masters Hard Quarterfinals Nadal 5–7, 6–4, 6–3 2:14 3/3 10 21
32. 2013 United Kingdom ATP World Tour Finals Tour Finals Hard (i) Semifinals Nadal 7–5, 6–3 1:19 2/3 10 22
33. 2014 Australia Australian Open Major Hard Semifinals Nadal 7–6(7–4), 6–3, 6–3 2:24 3/5 10 23
34. 2015 Switzerland Swiss Indoors 500 Hard (i) Final Federer 6–3, 5–7, 6–3 2:03 3/3 11 23
35. 2017 Australia Australian Open Major Hard Final Federer 6–4, 3–6, 6–1, 3–6, 6–3 3:37 5/5 12 23
36. 2017 United States Indian Wells Masters Masters Hard Round of 16 Federer 6–2, 6–3 1:08 2/3 13 23
37. 2017 United States Miami Open Masters Hard Final Federer 6–3, 6–4 1:34 2/3 14 23
38. 2017 China Shanghai Masters Masters Hard Final Federer 6–4, 6–3 1:12 2/3 15 23
2019 United States Indian Wells Masters Masters Hard Semifinals (Federer) Walkover N/A N/A 15 23
39. 2019 France French Open Major Clay Semifinals Nadal 6–3, 6–4, 6–2 2:25 3/5 15 24
40. 2019 United Kingdom Wimbledon Major Grass Semifinals Federer 7–6(7–3), 1–6, 6–3, 6–4 3:02 4/5 16 24

Doubles[edit]

Federer—Nadal (1–2)

No. Year Tournament Surface Round Winner Score Opponents Federer Nadal
1. 2004 United States Indian Wells Masters Hard Round of 16 Nadal/Robredo 5–7, 6–4, 6–3 Federer/Allegro 0 1
2. 2007 Italy Italian Open Clay Round of 32 Nadal/Moyá 6–4, 7–6(7–5) Federer/Wawrinka 0 2
3. 2011 United States Indian Wells Masters Hard Semifinals Federer/Wawrinka 7–5, 6–3 Nadal/M. López 1 2

As a pair (1–0)

No. Year Tournament Surface Round Winner Score Opponents Wins Losses
1. 2017 Czech Republic Laver Cup Hard (i) Day 2 Federer/Nadal 6–4, 1–6, [10–5] Querrey/Sock 1 0

Exhibitions[edit]

Federer—Nadal (2–7)

On 21 November 2006 they played an exhibition match on a hard court in Seoul, South Korea. Federer won 6–3, 3–6, 6–3.[46]

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).[47]

On 21 December 2010 they played in Zürich, 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 8 March 2011 the two played a set at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Oregon, United States. Nadal won the charity exhibition 7–5.

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.

Analysis[edit]

Significant aspects[edit]

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.[3] This includes playing French Open and Wimbledon finals for three consecutive years (2006–08), culminating in what many consider the greatest match in tennis history at Wimbledon 2008.[4][5][6][7] Nadal, who had to defeat Federer during each of his first six Grand Slam title runs, possesses a 6–3 advantage in their Grand Slam finals encounters as well as a 4–1 edge in semifinals.

Nadal denied Federer a Career Grand Slam plus two potential 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 by defeating Federer in the final. 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. At the 2017 Australian Open final, Federer denied Nadal's second opportunity (the 2014 Australian Open final was the first) to become the first man in the Open Era to have won each of the Grand Slam tournaments 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 player. 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.[48]

Of their 40 matches, 20 have been on hard court, 16 have been on clay, and 4 have been on grass. Federer has an edge on his best surface, grass (3–1), and on hard court (11–9) while Nadal dominates Federer on his best surface, clay (14–2).[49] Nadal leads 10–4 in all Grand Slam tournament matches, 6–0 on clay, 3–1 on hard courts and trails 1–3 on the grass in major tournaments.

The contrast in playing style has been a source of debate for commentators and analysts. 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.[50] 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.[51]

From 2004 to 2007, the rivalry stood at 8–6 in Nadal's favour, though Federer led on both grass (2–0) and hardcourt (3–2), Nadal led 6–1 on clay. However, from 2008 to 2014 Australian Open, Nadal compiled a lopsided 15–4 record, leading on each surface, grass (1–0), hard (7–3) and clay (7–1). Since then, after they played only one match in the next three years, Federer has dominated the rivalry with a 6–1 record. Federer has stated that early defeats to Nadal on clay courts had a long lasting mental effect on him in his matches against Nadal on other surfaces, and that the lopsided loss at 2008 French open affected him in his first two sets at 2008 Wimbledon final.[52] After his win over Nadal at 2017 Shanghai masters final, Federer credited his 2017 success on Nadal to bigger racquet frame and avoiding claycourt meetings against him since 2013.[53]

Comparison of Grand Slam tournament titles[edit]

As of September 2019 Roger Federer holds the all-time record for the most Grand Slam men's tournament titles with 20. Federer's Grand Slam tournament titles include 11 on hard courts, 8 on grass, and 1 on clay. Nadal is second on the all-time list for the most Grand Slam titles with 19 in total: 12 on clay, 5 on hard courts, and 2 on grass. Nadal and Mats Wilander are the only players in the open era to have won at least 2 Grand Slam titles on each of the 3 surfaces.

Nadal is the youngest male in the open era to win the Career Grand Slam. Both players have won the Career Grand Slam (winning all four majors at least once).

Tournament Federer Nadal
Australia Australian Open 6 1
France French Open 1 12
United Kingdom Wimbledon 8 2
United States US Open 5 4
Total Count 20 19
  • Bold indicates outright record holder

Comparison of Masters 1000 titles[edit]

Rafael Nadal holds a record 35 Masters 1000 titles, with 25 of his titles on clay and 10 on hard courts. Roger Federer has 28, with 22 coming on hardcourts and 6 on clay. Federer is missing two Masters 1000 titles, both of which are played on clay (Monte Carlo and Rome) while Nadal is missing two Masters 1000 titles (Miami and Paris), both of which are played on hard courts, having won the German Open Hamburg before it was downgraded to ATP 500 in 2009 and replaced by the Madrid Masters (clay). Nadal also won the Madrid Masters event in 2005 when it was played on indoor hardcourts in October, the same slot that Shanghai Masters has today.

Nadal prevented Federer from winning Monte Carlo three times from 2006 to 2008. He also beat Federer twice in the Rome finals, in 2006 and 2013.[54] 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.[55][56]

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.[57] Nadal made it back to the Miami final in 2008,[58] 2011,[59] 2014[60] and 2017 but lost each time.[60] In 2017, Federer again beat Nadal in the Miami final. He also prevented Nadal from winning in Shanghai, defeating the Spaniard in the final.

  Hardcourt   Clay

Tournament Federer Nadal
Indian Wells Masters 5 3
Miami Open 4 0
Monte-Carlo Masters 0 11
Madrid Open/German Open 6 5
Italian Open 0 9
Canadian Open 2 5
Cincinnati Masters 7 1
Shanghai Masters/Madrid Open 3 1
Paris Masters 1 0
Total Count 28 35
  • Bold indicates outright record holder

Comparison of Year-End Championships[edit]

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.

Tournament Federer Nadal
Tennis Masters Cup 4 0
ATP World Tour Finals 2 0
Total Count 6 0

Comparison of National Representation[edit]

Federer and Nadal have never faced each other in the Davis Cup or at the Olympics. Both Federer and Nadal have won the Gold Medal at the Olympics in Doubles. Nadal also won the Gold Medal in singles at the 2008 Bejing Olympics. Federer won the Silver at the 2012 London Olympics.

Tournament Federer Nadal
Olympics 0 1
Davis Cup 1 4
Total Count 1 5

Head-to-head tallies[edit]

The following is a breakdown of their head-to-head results:

  • All matches: Nadal, 24–16
  • All finals: Nadal, 14–10
    • Clay courts: Nadal, 11–2
    • Grass courts: Federer, 2–1
    • Hard courts: Federer, 6–2
      • Outdoor: Federer, 4–2
      • Indoor: Federer, 2–0
  • Grand Slam matches: Nadal, 10–4
    • Australian Open: Nadal, 3–1
    • French Open: Nadal, 6–0
    • Wimbledon: Federer, 3–1
  • 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, 12–7
  • ATP Masters Series/ATP World Tour Masters 1000 finals: Nadal, 7–5
  • Best of five set matches: Nadal, 12–5
    • Five-set matches: Tied, 3–3
  • Best of three set matches: Nadal, 12–11

Set tallies[edit]

Federer Set score Nadal
0 9–7 1
11 7–6[61] 11
4 7–5 7
10 6–4 16
13 6–3 20
5 6–2 9
5 6–1 5
3 6–0 1
50 Total sets 70
569 Total games 615
3675 Total points[62][63] 3772

Tournament overview[edit]

Tournament Hard Court (o) Clay Grass Hard Court (i) Total
Federer Nadal Federer Nadal Federer Nadal Federer Nadal Federer Nadal
Australian Open 1 3 1 3
French Open 0 6 0 6
Wimbledon 3 1 3 1
Indian Wells Masters 2 1 2 1
Miami Open 2 2 2 2
Monte-Carlo Masters 0 3 0 3
Italian Open 0 2 0 2
Hamburg Masters / Madrid Open 2 3 2 3
Cincinnati Masters 0 1 0 1
Shanghai Masters 1 0 1 0
Dubai Championships 0 1 0 1
Swiss Indoors 1 0 1 0
ATP Finals 4 1 4 1
Total 6 8 2 14 3 1 5 1 16 24

Grand Slam Matches timeline[edit]

Tournament 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Australian Open N N N F
French Open N N N N N N
Wimbledon F F N F
US Open

Hard / Grass timeline[edit]

Tournament 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Australian Open N N N F
Dubai N
Indian Wells F N F
Miami N F N F
Wimbledon F F N F
Cincinnati N
Shanghai F
Basel F
ATP Finals F F F F N

Clay timeline[edit]

Tournament 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Monte-Carlo N N N
Rome N N
Hamburg/Madrid F N F N N
French Open N N N N N N

Notes

  • In bold: Matches that happened in the finals.

Hard[edit]

Nadal and Federer have played half of their 40 matches (20) on hard courts, with the head-to-head on this surface at 11–9 in Federer's favour. 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 8–6. 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. This is the only surface on which they have exchanged the lead in their head-to-head, which has happened several times. In reference to their match at the 2012 Australian Open, Nadal has said that Federer is typically the "favourite" on "these kinds of surfaces".[64]

Clay[edit]

Nadal and Federer have played 16 of their 40 matches on clay, with Nadal holding a 14–2 advantage over Federer. The matches comprise 13 tournament finals and 3 semifinals. The Spaniard has won all of their seven meetings in best of five set matches on clay and all six at Roland Garros. Their last match on clay was played at the 2019 French Open.

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 finals), as well as in the 2011 final. From 2005–2010, Nadal won at least 2 of the 3 clay Masters events each year, defeating Federer in 6 of those. Statistically, Nadal has the highest win percentage on clay of any player in ATP history, and is second only to Anthony Wilding all-time. As a result, some analysts and players, such as Pat Cash and Conchita Martínez, consider Nadal the greatest clay-court player ever.[65]

Grass[edit]

Federer and Nadal have met four times on grass, specifically the Wimbledon finals from 2006 to 2008, and the semifinal of 2019. Federer has a 3-1 advantage over Nadal on this surface, winning the first two finals and the semifinal, while Nadal won the third final. Federer has won the Wimbledon Championships eight times, and Nadal has won the championships twice. Five of Federer's titles were consecutive titles (from 2003 to 2007), and the sixth, seventh and eighth titles were won in 2009, 2012 and 2017. The 2008 Wimbledon final has been lauded as the greatest match ever by many long-time tennis analysts.[a]

Skill comparisons[edit]

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 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.[66][67][68]

While Nadal is statistically weaker than Federer on both hard and grass courts, he 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, 2013, 2017 and 2019), and at various hard court Masters series tournaments. Nadal is one of only 2 men to have won at least 2 Grand Slam titles on each surface.

Similarly, Federer too has achieved considerable success on clay, winning the French Open (2009) and reaching the finals on four other occasions (2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011) and winning the Madrid/Hamburg Masters six times (2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2012).

Media and player commentary[edit]

During interviews, many fellow and former players have regarded both Federer and Nadal as among the best tennis players of all time.[69][70][70] 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.[71]

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."[71] He has subsequently adjusted his opinion on several occasions, in 2013 noting that he thought Nadal was "the greatest player that ever lived" [72] but later in 2014 bunched Federer, Nadal, Laver and Sampras together as the greatest ever.[73] In July 2015, he reversed his opinion and again backed Roger Federer for the title.[74] 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." [75]

In May 2014, eight-time Grand Slam tournament 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." [76]

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."[77]

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."[78] 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."[79]

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"[80] These comments were echoed by Boris Becker in July 2015, "Great respect for Roger Federer! He is our greatest of all time" [81]

Relationship and competitive dynamic[edit]

Both Federer and Nadal's personal and professional relationship is good-natured and gracious.[82] 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.[83] 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,[84] 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 had a somewhat different attitude towards their rivalry in its initial years. 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.[85][86] 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."[86] 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."[87] Nadal has always cherished the rivalry because he looks up to Federer as both a role model and a measuring stick for success.[88][89]

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.

Cultural impact[edit]

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.[5][90] The match was also featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, which was the first time in years that tennis had made its cover.[6][91] The high-profile status of the rivalry saw Sky Sports comparing it to another modern day rivalry between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.[92]

The pair's rivalry - and indeed mutual respect and friendship - was the subject of the 2009 book 'Strokes of Genius[93]' by L Jon Wertheim, which explored their career progression and early lives through the prism of the 2008 Wimbledon final. The book consequently inspired a 2018 film of the same name directed by Andrew Douglas, which updated the story to include their comebacks and recent domination of the slams. The documentary also includes footage of a skinny 12 year old Nadal before the development of his famously muscular physique and a number of clips of a surprisingly bad tempered Federer who admits in the film that he had to change his behaviour in order to progress his career.

The documentary features contributions from former players such as John McEnroe, Björn Borg, Pete Sampras, Tim Henman and Carlos Moya - Nadal's current coach - and family members including Federer's mother and father. An illuminating film, it was well received by audiences, scoring 9.2 on IMDB's user rating database.

Pairing Federer and Nadal[edit]

Significant achievements[edit]

  • 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.[94] 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. While both were in their thirties, they won 6 consecutive titles from the Australian Open 2017 to the French Open 2018.
  • 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 three pairs to have faced each other in a Major, having both already completed the career Grand Slam. They did this six times. The other pairs being Roy Emerson-Rod Laver and Nadal-Djokovic.[94]
  • 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.

Records[edit]

Grand Slam tournaments (since 1877)

  • Only two male players in tennis history to win more than 16 Grand Slam singles titles each (Federer – 20; Nadal – 19)
  • Only two male players in tennis history to reach more than 25 Grand Slam singles finals each (Federer – 31 Nadal – 27)
  • Only two male players in tennis history to win more than 68 matches at French Open each (Nadal – 93; Federer – 70)
  • Most Grand Slam finals played against each other in tennis history – 9 (2009 and 2017 Australian Open, 2006–2008 and 2011 French Open and 2006–2008 Wimbledon)
  • Most French Open finals played against each other in tennis history – 4 (2006–2008 and 2011)
  • Only two players in tennis history to have met in both French Open and Wimbledon finals in the same season for 3 consecutive years (2006–2008)
  • Only two male players in tennis history to win more than 7 titles at a single Grand Slam tournament (Nadal 12 at French Open; Federer 8 at Wimbledon)
  • Only two male players in tennis history to win more than 10 Grand Slam titles on particular surface (Federer – 11 on hard; Nadal – 12 on clay)
  • Rafael Nadal holds the record for most finals reached at French Open (12) while Federer holds records at both Wimbledon (12) and Australian Open (7 – tied with Emerson and Djokovic) in tennis history
  • Federer won the highest number of matches at both Australian Open (97) and Wimbledon (101), while Nadal at French Open (93) in tennis history
  • Federer won the highest number of matches in Grand Slam tournaments on hard (182), while Nadal on clay (93) – both all time records
  • Only two players in tennis history to reach more than 4 Grand Slam finals without losing a single set in tournament – 7 times for Nadal (Australian Open 2019, French Open 2007–2008, 2010, 2012, 2017, and US Open 2010), 6 times for Federer (Wimbledon 2006, 2008, 2017, Australian Open 2007, 2018 and US Open 2015)
  • Nadal is the only player in tennis history to win at least 1 Grand Slam title a season for 10 consecutive years (2005–2014), while Federer is the only player in tennis history to win 3 Grand Slam titles a season for 2 consecutive years (2006–2007) and the only to win 2 Grand Slam titles a season for 4 consecutive years (2004–2007).
  • They are just 2 of 3 players (the other being Björn Borg) to win more than 4 consecutive titles at single major tournament (Federer won Wimbledon 5 times from 2003 to 2007 and US Open 5 times from 2004 to 2008; Nadal won French Open 5 times from 2010 to 2014)
  • First pair in tennis history to win the 2 first major tournaments of the season 6 times (2006–2007, 2009–2010 and 2017–2018)
  • Second pair in tennis history (after Roy Emerson and John Newcombe in 1967) to win 2 Grand Slam titles each in a single calendar year (Federer won Australian Open and Wimbledon and Nadal won the French Open and US Open in 2017)

Open Era tournaments (since 1968; including Grand Slam tournaments)

  • Only two players in men's Open Era history to win more than 55 titles on a particular surface (Federer won 70 titles on hard; Nadal won 59 on clay)
  • Only two players in men's Open Era history to win at least 1 title for more than 14 consecutive years (Federer was winning for 15 seasons from 2001 to 2015; Nadal has an ongoing streak of 16 from 2004)
  • They are just 2 of 3 players (the other being Björn Borg) to win more than one Grand Slam tournament in men's Open Era without losing a single set (Nadal – French Open 2008, 2010 and 2017; Federer – Australian Open 2007 and Wimbledon 2017)
  • They are just 2 of 3 players (the other being Björn Borg) to win more than 30 consecutive matches at a Grand Slam event (Nadal – 31 and 39 at French Open; Federer – 40 at both Wimbledon and US Open) in men's Open Era
  • Rafael Nadal holds the record for most finals reached at French Open (12) while Roger Federer holds records at Wimbledon (11) and Australian Open (7) in men's Open Era
  • Nadal holds the record for most Grand Slam titles on clay (12) while Federer holds records for most titles on both grass (8) and hard (11)
  • Only two players in men's Open Era with more than 10 titles on a particular surface in Grand Slam tournaments (Federer 11 on hard, Nadal 12 on clay)
  • Only two players in men's Open Era history to each win a Grand Slam title without losing a single set in the same calendar year (2017)
  • Only two players in men's Open Era history to win more than 61 outdoor tennis tournaments (Nadal won 81 titles; Federer won 77)
  • Nadal won the most clay tournaments in men's Open Era history on clay with 59 titles, while Federer won the most tournaments on grass (19) and on hard (70)
  • Nadal has the longest streak on clay in men's Open Era history with 81 consecutive matches won from 2005 to 2007, while Federer won the most consecutive matches on grass, 65, from 2003 to 2008 and on hard, 56, from 2005 to 2006 (Federer also holds the 2nd best streak on hard - 36 consecutive victories from 2006 to 2007). They broke each other's streaks - Nadal beat Federer 2–6, 6–4, 6–4 in 2006 Dubai final on hard and 6–4, 6–4, 6–7(5), 6–7(8), 9–7 in 2008 Wimbledon final on grass, while Federer beat Nadal 2–6, 6–2, 6–0 in 2007 Hamburg Masters final on clay)
  • Only two players in men's Open Era history to reach more than 10 finals at a single tournament – Federer reached 14 finals in Basel (2000–2001, 2006–15,2017 and 2018) and 12 at both Wimbledon (2003–2009, 2012, 2014–2015, 2017 and 2019) and Halle (2003–2006, 2008, 2010, 2012–2015, 2017 and 2019), while Nadal reached and won 12 finals at Roland Garros (2005-2008, 2010-2014, 2017–2019, and reached and won 11 finals at Monte-Carlo (2005–2013 and 2016–2018) and Barcelona (2005-2009, 2011-2013, 2016–2018). Nadal was also runner-up at Monte-Carlo in 2013 (12 finals overall in Monaco)
  • Only two players in men's Open Era history to win one tournament more than 8 times (Nadal – Roland Garros - 12 titles, Monte Carlo and Barcelona – 11 titles each, Federer – Halle – 10 titles and Basel- 9 titles.)
  • Nadal has the highest record on clay in men's Open Era history with 92.0% (415–36), while Federer has the best record on grass 87.1% (176–25)
  • Only two tennis players to have won more than 348 matches in Masters 1000 tournaments (Nadal – 381; Federer – 379)
  • Most finals played against each other on clay in Masters 1000 tournaments (9)
  • Only players to reach at least 50 Masters 1000 finals (Nadal 51; Federer 50), and only players to reach more than 63 semifinals (Nadal – 67; Federer – 64)
  • Nadal won 13 consecutive clay tournaments and reached 18 consecutive clay tournaments finals, while Federer won 10 consecutive grass tournaments and reached 13 consecutive grass tournaments finals – all men's Open Era records
  • Only players in men's Open Era to win more than 12 titles at ATP 500 tournaments – Federer won 23 titles, Nadal 20
  • Only players in men's Open Era to reach more than 19 finals at ATP 500 tournaments – Federer reached 30 finals, Nadal 26
  • Only pair in men's Open Era to be represented in Hamburg Masters Series/Madrid Masters 1000 final for 9 consecutive years (2007–2015)
  • One of two pairs to have played in 12 finals against each other in Masters 1000 tournaments (along with Djokovic–Nadal)
  • Only players in men's Open Era to win more than 820 outdoor matches each (Federer won 933; Nadal won 882)
  • Only two players to reach more than 166 quarterfinals at outdoor tournaments (Nadal reached 177; Federer 173)
  • Only two players to reach final of the same ATP 500 tournament 8 times in a row – Federer in Basel from 2009 to 2017 (did not play in 2016); Nadal in Barcelona from 2005 to 2013 (did not play in 2010)
  • Most rivalries won (where a rivalry is more than 3 matches) vs Top 10 players – Federer is 1st with 61 rivalries won, while Nadal is 2nd with 52 won (tied with Andre Agassi and Jimmy Connors)
  • Federer has the highest number of titles won at Cincinnati Masters (7 – 2005, 2007, 2009–2010, 2012 and 2014–2015), Indian Wells Masters (5 – 2004–2006, 2012 and 2017, tied with Novak Djokovic) and Hamburg Masters (4 – 2002, 2004–2005 and 2007), while Nadal won the most titles at Monte Carlo Masters (11 – 2005–2012, 2016–2018), Rome Masters (9 – 2005–2007, 2009–2010, 2012–2013 and 2018-2019) and Madrid Masters (5 - 2005, 2010, 2013-2014 and 2017)
  • They are the only two players in the 21st century to win titles on 3 surfaces across consecutive events played (Federer won Wimbledon on grass, Gstaad on clay and Canada Masters on hard in 2004, while Nadal won Roland Garros on clay, both Queen's Club and Wimbledon on grass and Canada Masters on hard in 2008)
  • Nadal won the most consecutive sets on clay (50 - from 2017 to 2018), while Federer won the most consecutive sets on grass (36 - from 2003 to 2004 and also 2nd best on grass - 30 in 2017)

ATP Rankings (since 1973)

  • Federer has spent a record 237 consecutive weeks as an ATP #1 player in the world, while Nadal holds the record of most consecutive weeks as an ATP #2 player in the world with 160 weeks
  • As of Monday 18 June 2018 Federer has spent a record 310 weeks as an ATP #1 player in the world, while Nadal holds the record of most weeks as an ATP #2 player in the world with 292 weeks
  • For 6 consecutive seasons (2005–2010) one of them ended calendar season as a #1 player in the world, while the other was the #2 player in the world, a men's Open Era record
  • As of Monday 11 June 2018 they are the only players in men's Open Era to spend more than 387 weeks in ATP Top 2 (Federer – 528; Nadal – 488)
  • Only two players to finish season in Top 2 more than 9 times each (Federer – 11; Nadal – 10)
  • Only two players to finish season as No. 2 more than 4 times each (6 each)
  • Only two players to finish season in Top 2 more than 6 consecutive times each (Federer – 8 times from 2003 to 2010; Nadal – 7 times from 2005 to 2011)
  • Only two players to pass 9 years gap between their first and last week as world number 1 (Federer – 14 years and 142 days; Nadal – 10 years and 72 days)
  • They are just 2 of 3 players (the other being Novak Djokovic) to clinch ATP year-end world No. 1 in September (Federer in 2004 and 2006; Nadal in 2010)

Miscellaneous[edit]

  • Their 2008 Wimbledon men's singles final match is widely regarded as one of the greatest matches in tennis history.[95][96]
  • From 2004 to 2007, Federer won 320 of the 344 matches he played (320–24 record, 93.02% matches won). Nadal was the only player to have a positive record against Federer (with more than 2 matches played) in that time span (8–6)
  • In his 2006 season, Federer won 92 of 97 matches he played (92–5 record, 94.85% matches won). Nadal was the only player to hold a positive record against him (with more than 2 matches played), winning 4 matches and losing 2. Federer's only other loss of the year came from Andy Murray at the Cincinnati Masters
  • Neither of them won their bronze medal matches at the Olympic Games (Federer in 2000; Nadal in 2016)
  • Each of them won golden medal in men's doubles at the Olympic Games (Federer in 2008; Nadal in 2016)
  • Each player won three 5-set matches against the other player: 2 in Grand Slam (1 in Australian Open and 1 at Wimbledon) and 1 in Masters Series (all in finals); Federer won 2005 Miami Masters, 2007 Wimbledon and 2017 Australian Open, while Nadal won 2006 Rome Masters, 2008 Wimbledon and 2009 Australian Open. Federer leads 2-1 on hard, Nadal leads 1-0 on clay and they are tied at 1-1 on grass

Performance timeline comparison[edit]

Grand Slam tournaments[edit]

Key
W  F  SF QF #R RR Q# A P Z# PO G F-S SF-B NMS NH
(W) Won; (F) finalist; (SF) semifinalist; (QF) quarterfinalist; (#R) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; (RR) round-robin stage; (Q#) qualification round; (A) absent; (Z#) Davis/Fed Cup Zonal Group (with number indication) or (PO) play-off; (G) gold, (F-S) silver or (SF-B) bronze Olympic medal; a (NMS) downgraded Masters Series/1000 tournament; (NH) not held. SR=strike rate (events won/competed)
To avoid confusion and double counting, these charts are updated at the conclusion of a tournament or when the player's participation has ended.
  • Bold = players met during the tournament

1999–2004[edit]

Player 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA
Switzerland Roger Federer Q1 1R 1R Q2 3R 4R 1R 3R 3R QF QF 4R 4R 1R 1R 4R 4R 1R W 4R W 3R W W
Spain Rafael Nadal A A 3R 2R 3R A A 3R

2005–2010[edit]

Player 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA
Switzerland Roger Federer SF SF W W W F W W W F W W SF F F W F W W F W QF QF SF
Spain Rafael Nadal 4R W 2R 3R A W F QF QF W F 4R SF W W SF W 4R A SF QF W W W

2011–2016[edit]

Player 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA
Switzerland Roger Federer SF F QF SF SF SF W QF SF QF 2R 4R SF 4R F SF 3R QF F F SF A SF A
Spain Rafael Nadal QF W F F F W 2R A A W 1R W F W 4R A QF QF 2R 3R 1R 3R A 4R

2017–present[edit]

Player 2017 2018 2019
AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA
Switzerland Roger Federer W A W QF W A QF 4R 4R SF F QF
Spain Rafael Nadal F W 4R W QF W SF SF F W SF W

By age (end of season)[edit]

17–21[edit]

Player 17 18 19 20 21
AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA
Switzerland Roger Federer A A A A Q1 1R 1R Q2 3R 4R 1R 3R 3R QF QF 4R 4R 1R 1R 4R
Spain Rafael Nadal A A 3R 2R 3R A A 2R 4R W 2R 3R A W F QF QF W F 4R

22–26[edit]

Player 22 23 24 25 26
AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA
Switzerland Roger Federer 4R 1R W 4R W 3R W W SF SF W W W F W W W F W W
Spain Rafael Nadal SF W W SF W 4R A SF QF W W W QF W F F F W 2R A

27–31[edit]

Player 27 28 29 30 31
AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA
Switzerland Roger Federer SF F F W F W W F W QF QF SF SF F QF SF SF SF W QF
Spain Rafael Nadal A W 1R W F W 4R A QF QF 2R 3R 1R 3R A 4R F W 4R W

32–36[edit]

Player 32 33 34 35 36
AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA
Switzerland Roger Federer SF QF 2R 4R SF 4R F SF 3R QF F F SF A SF A W A W QF
Spain Rafael Nadal QF W SF SF F W SF W

37–41[edit]

Player 37 38 39 40 41
AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA
Switzerland Roger Federer W A QF 4R 4R SF F QF
Spain Rafael Nadal

ATP Rankings[edit]

Year-End ranking timeline[edit]

Player 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Switzerland Roger Federer 301 64 29 13 6 2 1 1 1 1 2 1 2 3 2 6 2 3 16 2 3
Spain Rafael Nadal 811 200 49 51 2 2 2 1 2 1 2 4 1 3 5 9 1 2

ATP Year-End ranking timeline by age[edit]

Year End Ranking 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37
Switzerland Roger Federer 301 64 29 13 6 2 1 1 1 1 2 1 2 3 2 6 2 3 16 2 3
Spain Rafael Nadal 811 200 49 51 2 2 2 1 2 1 2 4 1 3 5 9 1 2

Career evolution[edit]

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 16 as starting point, and comparing their accomplishments at the same age. For instance in 2006, Federer finished the season being 25 years old having accumulated a career record of nine Major titles, and ranked No.1. By comparison, Nadal finished the 2011 season also aged 25, having accumulated ten Major titles in total, and being ranked No.2.

  • () = active record (updated 15 July 2019)
Age at end of season 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38
Switzerland Federer's season 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Spain Nadal's season 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Grand Slam titles Federer 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 6 9 12 13 15 16 16 17 17 17 17 17 19 20 (20)
Nadal 0 0 0 1 2 3 5 6 9 10 11 13 14 14 14 16 17 19
Grand Slam match wins Federer 0 0 0 7 20 26 39 61 85 112 138 162 188 208 228 247 260 279 297 307 325 339 (353)
Nadal 0 0 6 19 36 56 80 95 120 143 157 171 187 198 203 226 247 271
ATP Finals titles Federer 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 2 3 4 4 4 5 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 (6)
Nadal 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 (0)
Masters 1000 titles Federer 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 4 8 12 14 14 16 17 18 21 21 23 24 24 27 27 (28)
Nadal 0 0 0 4 6 9 12 15 18 19 21 26 27 27 28 30 33 (35)
Total titles Federer 0 0 0 0 1 4 11 22 33 45 53 57 61 66 70 76 77 82 88 88 95 99 (102)
Nadal 0 0 1 12 17 23 31 36 43 46 50 60 64 67 69 75 80 (84)
Total match wins Federer 0 2 15 51 100 158 236 310 391 483 551 617 678 743 807 878 923 996 1059 1080 1134 1184 (1222)
Nadal 1 14 45 124 183 253 335 401 472 541 583 658 706 767 806 873 919 (966)
Ranking Federer 0 301 64 29 13 6 2 1 1 1 1 2 1 2 3 2 6 2 3 16 2 3 (3)
Nadal 200 49 51 2 2 2 1 2 1 2 4 1 3 5 9 1 2 (2)
Weeks at number 1 Federer 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 48 100 152 204 237 262 285 285 302 302 302 302 302 302 310 (310)
Nadal 0 0 0 0 0 0 19 46 76 102 102 115 141 141 141 160 196 (196)

Titles by tournaments played comparison[edit]

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 Slam tournaments, 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 19th Grand Slam title at his 70th Grand Slam tournament, while Nadal won his 19th at his 58th 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 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36
Federer won at Grand Slam # 17 19 21 22 25 26 27 29 30 31 33 34 38 40 41 43 53 69 70 72 (79)
Nadal 6 9 13 17 18 20 24 25 26 28 32 34 36 38 48 50 52 56 58 (59)
Federer won at ATP Masters # 22 35 38 39 41 42 44 45 46 47 50 52 57 59 75 77 84 94 95 97 99 112 113 119 124 125 127 134 (138)
Nadal 10 11 12 14 17 18 22 24 25 33 35 36 40 42 43 51 52 53 59 67 69 70 72 73 74 75 81 95 102 103 109 111 112 116 117 (118)
Federer won at ATP Finals # 2 3 5 6 9 10 (16)
Nadal (8)
Federer won at Olympics # (4)
Nadal 1 (2)
Federer won at ATP 500 # 12 14 15 17 18 19 21 22 25 27 28 29 35 36 37 38 39 42 43 44 46 47 (47)
Nadal 5 6 7 8 9 11 12 15 17 19 20 22 23 24 26 33 37 40 41 42 (44)
Federer won at ATP 250 # 23 30 40 41 42 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 62 63 66 69 70 71 75 (75)
Nadal 11 18 21 22 30 40 41 44 45 (48)

Federer–Nadal Grand Slam era (2003–present)[edit]

Year Australian Open French Open Wimbledon US Open
2003 United States Andre Agassi Spain Juan Carlos Ferrero Switzerland Roger Federer United States Andy Roddick
2004 Switzerland Roger Federer Argentina Gastón Gaudio Switzerland Roger Federer Switzerland Roger Federer
2005 Russia Marat Safin Spain Rafael Nadal Switzerland Roger Federer Switzerland Roger Federer
2006 Switzerland Roger Federer Spain Rafael Nadal Switzerland Roger Federer Switzerland Roger Federer
2007 Switzerland Roger Federer Spain Rafael Nadal Switzerland Roger Federer Switzerland Roger Federer
2008 Serbia Novak Djokovic Spain Rafael Nadal Spain Rafael Nadal Switzerland Roger Federer
2009 Spain Rafael Nadal Switzerland Roger Federer Switzerland Roger Federer Argentina Juan Martín del Potro
2010 Switzerland Roger Federer Spain Rafael Nadal Spain Rafael Nadal Spain Rafael Nadal
2011 Serbia Novak Djokovic Spain Rafael Nadal Serbia Novak Djokovic Serbia Novak Djokovic
2012 Serbia Novak Djokovic Spain Rafael Nadal Switzerland Roger Federer United Kingdom Andy Murray
2013 Serbia Novak Djokovic Spain Rafael Nadal United Kingdom Andy Murray Spain Rafael Nadal
2014 Switzerland Stan Wawrinka Spain Rafael Nadal Serbia Novak Djokovic Croatia Marin Čilić
2015 Serbia Novak Djokovic Switzerland Stan Wawrinka Serbia Novak Djokovic Serbia Novak Djokovic
2016 Serbia Novak Djokovic Serbia Novak Djokovic United Kingdom Andy Murray Switzerland Stan Wawrinka
2017 Switzerland Roger Federer Spain Rafael Nadal Switzerland Roger Federer Spain Rafael Nadal
2018 Switzerland Roger Federer Spain Rafael Nadal Serbia Novak Djokovic Serbia Novak Djokovic
2019 Serbia Novak Djokovic Spain Rafael Nadal Serbia Novak Djokovic Spain Rafael Nadal

Combined singles performance timeline (best result)[edit]

Tournament 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 SR
Grand Slam tournaments
Australian Open Q1 3R 3R 4R 4R W SF W W SF W W SF F SF F QF SF W W F 7 / 20
French Open 1R 4R QF 1R 1R 3R W W W W W W W W W W QF 3R W W W 13 / 20
Wimbledon 1R 1R QF 1R W W W W W W W W F W 2R F F SF W SF F 10 / 21
US Open Q2 3R 4R 4R 4R W W W W W F W F QF W SF F 4R W SF W 9 / 20
Tournament 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 SR
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 W F F 8 / 19
Miami 1R 2R QF F QF 4R W W QF F SF SF F SF A F 3R 2R W 2R W 4 / 20
Monte Carlo 1R 1R QF 2R 3R A W W W W W W W W F F SF W W W SF 11 / 20
Madrid1 A 1R 1R W 3R W W A W W W W F W W W F SF W QF SF 11 / 19
Rome A 1R 3R 1R F 2R W W W QF W W F W W F F QF QF W W 8 / 20
Canada A 1R A 1R SF W W W F W QF F 3R A W F QF A F W W 7 / 16
Cincinnati A 1R A 1R 2R 1R W QF W SF W W QF W W W W 3R QF F 3R 8 / 19
Shanghai2 A 2R 2R QF SF 2R W W F SF F F 3R SF SF W SF 2R W SF 4 / 19
Paris A 1R 2R QF QF A A A F QF SF SF W A SF QF QF A QF SF 1 / 14
ATP Finals Did Not Qualify SF W W F W W RR SF W W F F F F A SF SF 6 / 16

1 Held as Hamburg Masters (outdoor clay) until 2008, Madrid Masters (outdoor clay) 2009 – present.
2 Held as Stuttgart Masters (indoor hard) until 2001, Madrid Masters (indoor hard) from 2002–08, and Shanghai Masters (outdoor hard) 2009 – present

Federer–Nadal ATP world No. 1 era[edit]

Player Start date End date Weeks Total
Switzerland Roger Federer 2 February 2004 17 August 2008 237 237
Spain Rafael Nadal 18 August 2008 5 July 2009 46 46
Switzerland Roger Federer (2) 6 July 2009 6 June 2010 48 285
Spain Rafael Nadal (2) 7 June 2010 3 July 2011 56 102
Serbia Novak Djokovic 4 July 2011 8 July 2012 53 53
Switzerland Roger Federer (3) 9 July 2012 4 November 2012 17 302
Serbia Novak Djokovic (2) 5 November 2012 6 October 2013 48 101
Spain Rafael Nadal (3) 7 October 2013 6 July 2014 39 141
Serbia Novak Djokovic (3) 7 July 2014 6 November 2016 122 223
United Kingdom Andy Murray 7 November 2016 20 August 2017 41 41
Spain Rafael Nadal (4) 21 August 2017 18 February 2018 26 167
Switzerland Roger Federer (4) 19 February 2018 1 April 2018 6 308
Spain Rafael Nadal (5) 2 April 2018 13 May 2018 6 173
Switzerland Roger Federer (5) 14 May 2018 20 May 2018 1 309
Spain Rafael Nadal (6) 21 May 2018 17 June 2018 4 177
Switzerland Roger Federer (6) 18 June 2018 24 June 2018 1 310
Spain Rafael Nadal (7) 25 June 2018 4 November 2018 19 196

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]