Roger Federer against his biggest rivals: Novak Djokovic & Rafael Nadal | TBEN | Tennis

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Long headed for the history books, Roger Federer’s epic rivalry with Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal can now be viewed in its entirety as the Swiss writes the final pages of his storied TBEN career.

A triumvirate known internationally as the Big Three, the sporting legends have dominated tennis’ biggest stages and have taken the game to an unprecedented level. The three most decorated players of all time have forged their careers in parallel, with 63 Grand Slam titles to date.

On his road to greatness, Federer improved his game in the face of his two greatest rivals. He took on Nadal 40 times, five years his junior. He met the six years younger Djokovic fifty times.

ATPTour.com looks back at some key moments in Federer’s two biggest touring rivalries.

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Federer vs Nadal rivalry

H2H: 24-16 Nadal
Grand Slam Encounters: 10-4 Nadal
Grand Slam final: 6-3 Nadal
Nitto ATP Finals Encounters: 4-1 Federer
ATP Masters 1000 encounters: 12-7 Nadal
ATP Masters 1000 finals: 7-5 Nadal
Meetings in final: 14-10 Nadal

Some rivalries transcend their sport and it is impossible to think of modern tennis without Roger Federer’s rivalry with Rafael Nadal. At a time when he was the dominant force and undisputed No. 1, Federer faced a new rival with the breakthrough breakthrough of Nadal, who since his adolescence was poised to leave an indelible mark on the track. In total, the two players met 40 times, elevating tennis to a new level of excellence and popularity.

The Spaniard’s impulsiveness has always been the perfect reflection of the Swiss’ natural talent, a clash of styles that produced an enticing spectacle. The speed of Nadal, a player who is both physically strong and tactically adept, contrasted with the magical hands of Federer, who could place the ball anywhere on the pitch.

Nadal never feared the great Federer, whom he defeated in an unforgettable first game. On the Miami field in the 2004 season, before turning 20, Rafa emerged as a tactical conundrum for Roger. Looping a left-handed forehand straight to Federer’s backhand above his shoulder, the Spaniard was ready to break down the Tour’s dominant force. Forced to improve his backhand wing to compete with Nadal, the Swiss responded by winning the 2005 Miami final in five sets on the same podium. He took the win, but he also knew he had found a special nemesis.

Nadal was ready to challenge Federer’s supremacy and signs of a major rivalry came quickly. Before Federer could expand his mastery on clay, the Spaniard made sure to stamp his authority. Although the Swiss was the man to end Nadal’s 81 straight wins on the red soil – the longest streak on a single surface in the Open Era – Nadal has always been fiercely dominant during this part of the season. He would beat Federer in three consecutive Roland Garros finals between 2006 and 2008.

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“Had one of us not existed, the other would have been more successful,” admitted Nadal. “But it’s also true that the rivalry has benefited our international reach as it has made the game more appealing to people. If a player wins all the time, that might be good for the player, but not necessarily good for the sport. What’s good for the sport should ultimately be good for both of us.”

<a href=Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, 2017 Indian Wells “style=”width: 100%;” />
Photo credits: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
After already playing two consecutive Wimbledon finals, Nadal and Federer crossed swords again on the London lawns for the third consecutive season in 2008. In one of the biggest matches in the history of the sport, Nadal defeated the Swiss, the champion of the grass Grand Slam for the past five years. The Spaniard’s five-set victory confirmed that their rivalry would extend far beyond the boundaries of clay. A race against time had begun, it was history in the making.

By the time history repeated itself at the 2009 Australian Open, Nadal’s first major trophy on hard court, their rivalry was in full swing. “God, this is killing me,” admitted a defeated Roger during the trophy presentation.

When the world seemed left out that Grand Slam finals between these two greats were a thing of the past – their last at Roland Garros in 2011, Nadal and Federer found themselves in the decider at the 2017 Australian Open. There, with the weight of the history on his shoulders, the Swiss won a five-set victory for centuries thanks to a stabbing backhand and a new racket, chosen in part to defend against the Spaniard’s forehand that had tormented the Swiss for so many years. Unexpectedly, after a five-year drought, Federer had another big turn and another epic chapter against his most iconic rival.

<a href=Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, 2017 Australian Open” />
Photo credits: Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Federer withstood the passing of the years with impeccable professionalism, despite a stellar career already to his credit, winning the last four finals he played against Nadal on Tour. Rather than resigning themselves to a changing of the guard, the Swiss’ competitiveness expanded this once-in-a-lifetime rivalry.

Their last two encounters could not have been more appropriate. A win for Nadal at Roland Garros and one for Federer at Wimbledon, the stages in which these two legends laid the foundations for their respective legacies, brought their joint masterpiece to an end.

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“I have always had the utmost respect for my friend Rafa as a person and champion,” said Federer. “My rival for many years, I think we forced each other to become better players. I have seen many hardworking and inspiring players, but in my opinion you were the most influential of them all. You helped me to become the player who I am now.”

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Roger Federer vs. Novak Djokovic

H2H: 27-23 Djokovic
Grand Slam encounters: 11-6 Djokovic
Grand Slam final: 4-1 Djokovic
Nitto ATP Finals Encounters: 3-3
ATP Masters 1000 encounters: 11-9 Djokovic
Final ATP Masters 1000: 5-3 Djokovic
Meetings in final: 13-6 Djokovic

In another epic rivalry that brought as much joy as it was heartbreak, Federer fought Djokovic more times than any other player on the Tour, totaling 50 astonishingly intense clashes in their ATP Head2Head series. Djokovic is the only player to have beaten Federer in all majors and the Swiss is the only one to have done the same for Novak.

While Federer came out on top in their first four encounters, winning 10 consecutive sets against a youthful Djokovic in 2006-2007, at a time when he was the undisputed No. 1, the Serb brought the experience to bear in one of the most intense bouts in the sport. has seen.

From then on, they starred in the battle to be the best on tour, crossing each other only when the biggest prizes were at stake. The next 46 clashes that shaped their rivalry only included semi-finals, finals and the Nitto ATP Finals, with Djokovic claiming a 27-23 lead.

<a href=Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, Australian Open 2016″ />
Photo credits: Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Their two semi-finals at the US Open, where the two players pushed each other to their limits in 2010 and 2011, fully showing Djokovic’s amazing survival skills, will live on in the memories of tennis fans for a long time. In both five-set matches, at one of Roger’s happiest hunting grounds, where he had won five consecutive titles (2004-2008), Novak dug his heels in the sand and saved match points under the New York spotlight.

The 2011 season was particularly intense for both players. In one of the most amazing seasons of all time, Djokovic extended his winning streak to 43 games, a historic streak that ended in the semifinals of the French Open. There, with the opportunity to underline his authority, Federer stepped forward in one of their most epic encounters, raising a finger to the sky as he took the win, a reminder that the No. 1 spot may not have been the exclusive property of the Serbian.

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In a rivalry that went around the world, London played a vital role. Djokovic claimed the Nitto ATP Finals trophy against Roger in 2012, 2014 and 2015, a sign of both players’ ability to stand out on indoor courts, and the two would become the major modern dominant forces of the tournament closing the season. Roger’s last win there, in the group stage in 2019, underlined his ability to compete against the strongest players, even as he approached his 40s.

England’s capital is also home to the lawns of Wimbledon, where they have produced some unforgettable battles at the Tour’s most traditional event. When Federer won their epic five-set semifinal before retaking the No. 1 position in 2012, Djokovic’s response was overwhelming. The Serb is the only player to have beaten the Swiss in three Wimbledon finals (2014, 2015, 2019), conquering the wonderland Roger had made his own.

<a href=Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, 2014 Wimbledon Championships” />
Photo credits: Al Bello/Getty Images
The last of those clashes, in which he saved two match points in the return and reached 12-12 in the deciding set, was one of the highlights of their rivalry. With a ninth Wimbledon trophy within reach, the defeat was arguably the most difficult moment in the Swiss player’s career.

The biggest stages formed the backdrop for their shared history on the track. A total of 20 like-minded people at ATP Masters 1000 events, where they faced each other in all events of the category in Madrid, took their rivalry to all corners of the globe. They played finals in Indian Wells, Shanghai, Canada, Rome and Cincinnati (four times).

“We’ve played some incredible games,” Federer admitted. “When I’m on the track against him, the game is brutal. It’s exciting because it goes beyond the competition, it transcends the sport.

“Novak plays perfectly on any surface. He always brings an extremely high level, to beat him you have to do your best. He moves great and I have great coordination, so we are a good match.

“Rivalry is important in sport. I think they help make it more popular. You always need someone with whom you can have a good rivalry. Luckily I was able to have one with Djokovic. We brought out the best in each other.”

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