Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s tennis rivalry was unique, and Federer has found an interesting way to describe Nadal’s approach to matches.
The two legendary athletes’ careers overlapped for 15 years until Federer retired in September last year, with their last professional match together being a doubles encounter at the Laver Cup in London.
Known affectionately as “Fedal” by fans, they shared similarities in terms of career achievements, with Nadal winning 22 Grand Slams and Federer earning 20 major titles. Both also spent significant periods as the No. 1 players in the ATP Rankings.
However, on the court, they had contrasting styles, with one being more relaxed and the other intense.
Federer, having witnessed Nadal’s on-court routine countless times, used a unique analogy to describe the Spaniard’s persona during matches.
“I don’t know Rafa well off the court, but whenever I see him at the courts, he’s like a tiger in a cage, and I feel very relaxed both on and off the court,” the 42-year-old Swiss legend shared on the ATP Tennis Podcast.
“He possesses incredible intensity. He’s constantly warming up and preparing. You can always sense that he has a match on his mind.
“I wouldn’t say we’re complete opposites, but to some extent, I’m calmer and more relaxed, while he approaches tennis in a more intense manner when he’s on the court.”
The pair faced each other 40 times in competitive matches, with their first-ever encounter taking place at the 2004 Miami Open, where a young Nadal triumphed over the established Federer. Their last meeting was in the 2019 Wimbledon semi-final, with Federer emerging victorious in four sets. In their head-to-head rivalry, Nadal won 24 matches.
Federer was asked if he misses competing against his great rival, to which he replied, “To be honest, I haven’t really thought about whether I miss playing against Rafa.
“Not really, you know. Maybe I’m happier not to be in those tough matches where you face one of the greatest players on center court. It can be nerve-racking. I’ve experienced it so many times that it’s good not to have it anymore…”
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Jessica Roberts serves up the latest in the world of tennis. With a love for the racket sport, she reports on tennis matches, player rankings, and Grand Slam events, ensuring readers stay informed about the tennis world.