The Top 5 Epic Showdowns Between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

In tennis circles, their rivalry is one of the most talked about. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have been the No. 1 and No. 2 players in ATP tennis for the past six years, and the two have clashed in final after final.

Some are on Team Rafa, while others are on Fed’s side, but neither side can deny that when these two tennis gods clash, incredible tennis is produced. The score was 14-8 in favour of Nadal at the completion of the 2010 season, with the Spaniard having more Grand Slam success.

The following are their top five matchups.


1. Popping Their Cherries: March 2004


On March 28, 2004, during the Nasdaq 100 Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on Key Biscayne in Miami, Florida, Roger Federer of Switzerland returns a shot against Rafael Nadal of Spain.

It’s worth recalling the first time Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal faced each other.

Third round of the Miami Masters in March 2004. Federer was 22 years old at the time, and had just recently risen to No. 1 after winning his first two Grand Slam titles. Then came Rafael Nadal, a 17-year-old who was ranked No. 34 at the time.

Nadal stunned the tennis world by winning in straight sets.


2. First Grand Slam Final: 2006 French Open

PARIS – JUNE 11: Rafael Nadal (L) of Spain celebrates his Men’s Singles Final victory over Roger Federer (R) of Switzerland on day fifteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 11, 2006 in Paris, France.

The first time Fed and Rafa met in a Grand Slam final was at the 2006 French Open. They met in every Wimbledon and French Open final from 2006 to 2008.

With a 1–6, 6–1, 6–4, 7–6(4) win in Paris in 2006 (it’s on clay, after all), Nadal won for the second year in a row.


3. King of Clay in Trouble?

PARIS – JUNE 11: After defeating Roger Federer of Switzerland in the Men’s Singles Final on day fifteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 11, 2006 in Paris, France, Rafael Nadal of Spain lies on the clay.

Federer had a good season in 2007, winning three of his five encounters against Nadal.

The most unexpected victory was at the Hamburg Masters. Nadal is known as the “King of Clay,” and the odds are constantly stacked against him.

When his opponent is Federer on that surface, it works in his favour. Nadal has an 81-match winning streak on clay before to this final.

Federer stunned the tennis world by winning the tournament in just three sets, including a decisive 6-0 third set to put an end to Nadal’s run.


4. The Battle of Surfaces

MALLORCA, SPAIN – MAY 2: Rafael Nadal of Spain and Roger Federer of Switzerland compete in ‘The Battle of the Surfaces’ at The Palma Arena in Mallorca, Spain on May 2, 2007.

While this was an exhibition match (why pay $1.63 million for the sake of entertainment?), the concept was great. On clay, the King of Clay takes on the Wimbledon champion on grass. Federer had won 48 consecutive matches on grass, while Nadal had won 72 consecutive matches on clay.

Nadal won 7–5, 4–6, 7–6 (12–10) at his hometown.


5. The Greatest Match in Tennis History


On day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships, Roger Federer of Switzerland congratulates Rafael Nadal of Spain on winning the Championship trophy at the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London.

The Federer vs. Nadal 2008 final was not just the longest final in Wimbledon history (4 hours and 48 minutes), but it is also regarded as the best contest in tennis history. Nadal won the match 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7.

Rain delays, epic tiebreakers, and the end of Federer’s five-year Wimbledon win streak; the match is even the subject of a book (Strokes of Genius by L. Jon Wertheim).