The over-riding storyline in men's tennis for well over a decade now, the famous 'Fedal' rivalry and arguably the greatest tennis rivalry of all time will be renewing itself on Sunday (27 January) as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal meet for the first time since 2015 in the final of the Australian Open.
Since 2004, the pair have clashed 34 times, with Nadal currently leading their 12-year-old rivalry 23-11. Their 2008 Wimbledon final is still regarded as THE greatest tennis match ever by many long-time tennis analysts.
FEDERER V NADAL
All matches: Nadal, 23–11
All finals: Nadal, 14–7
Grand Slam matches: Nadal, 9–2
Australian Open: Nadal, 3–0
French Open: Nadal, 5–0
Wimbledon: Federer, 2–1
Grand Slam finals: Nadal, 6–2
With the much-anticipated final just around the corner, IBTimes had a look at Fedal's top five matches ever.
No. 5: 2005 ATP Masters Series Miami Final
Federer came into this match on the back of a 21-game winning streak and looking to avenge Nadal for defeating him in the third round of the same competition just a year before. Whilst the youngest player to appear in the final of a Miami Masters was looking to pick up his first career hard-court title. It was the Swiss who prevailed, with a 2-6, 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-1 victory.
No. 4: 2006 ATP Masters Series Rome Final
The match that really cemented the pair's rivalry. Federer, already considered an all-time great, was the dominant force on the ATP world tour. But the Spanish teenager had a psychological advantage over the then World No.1 after beating him in four of the previous five encounters, and Nadal's legacy had also started to grow since their 2005 Miami encounter. Federer held two championship points on Nadal's serve at 5–6 in the 5th set but failed to convert. Federer then led 5–3 in the 5th-set tiebreaker, but Nadal won the next four points to claim the Championship. The match was terrific theatre and must-see for all sports lovers.
No. 3: 2009 Australian Open Final
This was the pair's first-ever meeting outside the French Open or Wimbledon and it did not disappoint. An exhilarating, high-quality match between the then ranked first and second in the world lasted a whopping four hours and 23 minutes, with Nadal coming out on top in a five-set victory to become the first Spaniard, male or female, to win the Australian Open. The match was lauded as one of the greatest ever, if not the greatest at the Australian Open.
No. 2: 2007 Wimbledon Final
Nadal had now been the world No. 2 for two whole years. He was looking to dethrone the man that had won the previous five Wimbledons. After 3 hours and 45 minutes, Federer defeated Nadal 7–6<sup>(9–7), 4–6, 7–6<sup>(7–3), 2–6, 6–2. Upon its conclusion, it was almost universally praised as the greatest Wimbledon final since Borg-McEnroe in 1980. This match was historic as it saw Federer equal Bjorn Borg's open era record of five consecutive world championships. This was also the first time that Federer or Nadal had ever played a fifth set in a Grand Slam final.
No. 1: 2008 Wimbledon Final
Widely regarded as the greatest match in the history of tennis, this epitomised the pair's rivalry. Previous to this match, the two had won 14 of the last 16 grand slams between them and this was the third consecutive year they met each other in the Wimbledon final, and it proved to be the most enthralling one yet. During the deciding set, Federer was two points away (and at one point, a break point up) from claiming his sixth consecutive Wimbledon crown, but Nadal ultimately held serve and went on to claim the very rare French Open/Wimbledon double. In such a great match, it was hard to crown a winner and a loser. For Federer, it was the first time he had lost on grass-courts since 2002.