Roger & Rafa: Every Match Ever Played
A recap of every match Nadal and Federer have played...
The pair will face off again for the first time since 2017 on Friday in the Roland Garros semi-finals. Federer and Nadal had set up a semi-final showdown earlier this season at the BNP Paribas Open, but the Spaniard withdrew ahead of the match with right knee pain.
“We’ve had so many epic battles and I know every match we have now could be our last. Was this our chance for the last one? I really hope not,” said Federer at the time. “I believe at the level he’s playing and that I’m still going at, there’s going to be more.”
While Nadal leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 23-15, it looks a lot better for the Swiss than it did in early 2014, when Nadal led 23-10 after winning the Australian Open final. Since then, Federer has won five matches in a row for the first time in the rivalry, including three title victories over the Spaniard in 2017.
Here is a history of their 38 career meetings:
2017 Shanghai Rolex Masters F, hard, Federer d. Nadal 6-4, 6-3
However hard it is to believe, Federer is still doing new things.
For the first time in the rivalry, the 36 year old defeated Nadal for the fifth time in a row, earning his tour-leading third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title of the season in Shanghai. Not only did he halt the momentum of the Spaniard's 16-match winning streak, but maintained his hopes of finishing at No. 1 in the year-end Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time since 2009. Nadal could have gained a nearly insurmountable 2,760-point lead over his rival, but Federer instead closed the gap to 1,960 points as the season nears an exciting finale.
Despite World No. 1 Nadal arguably entering the match as the favourite after earning back-to-back titles at the US Open and the China Open and eliminating two Top 10 players in Grigor Dimitrov and Marin Cilic in Shanghai, it was Federer who came out of the gate firing, breaking in the first game of the match. The now two-time Shanghai champion broke twice more in the second set, and never faced a break point in the match to claim his third title-match victory over Nadal in 2017.
Perhaps Federer summed it up best.
"We didn't think maybe we were going to have the year we did. I definitely didn't," Federer said. "Hopefully there's more to come."
2017 Miami Open presented by Itau F, hard, Federer d. Nadal 6-3, 6-4
Federer might have said it best before he and Nadal faced off for the 37th time during the Miami final on 2 April: “Feels like old times.”
Few would have predicted that Federer and Nadal would have fought over one 'Big Title' in 2017, let alone a second. But both players steamrolled into the Miami title match, where Federer picked up where he left off the last time they met, during the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
The Swiss right-hander, who also won the 2017 Australian Open final against Nadal, dominated on his serve in Miami, saving all four break points faced and winning 87 per cent of his first-serve points (34/39). During their first two FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings in 2017, Federer's flat and much-improved backhand was the story.
In Miami, Federer's forehand stole the spotlight. The fourth seed slapped 19 forehand winners, compared to 13 for Nadal. Federer left Miami with his third South Florida title, his third Sunshine Double and a tantalising question for fans to ponder: How long can one of the greatest of all-time keep up this stellar second act?
2017 BNP Paribas Open fourth round, Indian Wells, hard, Federer d. Nadal
Channeling the same game plan that reaped the ultimate reward in the Australian Open final in January, Federer has put on a stunning display of aggression to defeat Nadal in the fourth round. Federer’s victory marked the first time he had defeated Nadal three times in a row in 36 FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, following his five-set triumph in Melbourne in January and a three-set win in the 2015 Basel final. It was the first time the pair had squared off before the quarter-finals since their first meeting in the 2004 Miami third round.
Federer came out of the blocks in a hurry against Nadal. The Swiss secured the opener 6-2, consistently finding his mark coming over the backhand to keep Nadal on the back foot. His fifth backhand winner of the first set was followed by an explosive wrong-footing forehand winner to bring up a break point on the Spaniard’s serve at 3-1. He secured the double break off a spectacular backhand return winner for 4-1 after 23 minutes. He would close out the opening set in style as he threaded back-to-back forehand winners to bring up two set points and sealed it on his first with a serve-volley winner after 34 minutes.
Determined to make a statement he would not go quietly, Nadal started the second set with authority, holding to love with a forehand winner and an ace out wide for 1-0. Federer’s aggression continued to gnaw at Nadal, however. His confidence surged further when he broke early for 2-1 and now redlining, the pressure from the 36-year-old Swiss was relentless. He held to love for 4-2 off an ace out wide and drew the error from a looping backhand.
2017 Australian Open final, Melbourne, hard, Federer d. Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
For years, many tennis observers thought they'd never see this again: Federer and Nadal meeting in a Grand Slam final. The fans and analysts weren't being pessimistic, either. It had been three years since Nadal had won 2014 Roland Garros and almost five years since Federer hoisted the Wimbledon trophy in 2012. But here the all-time greats and friends were, proving the doubters wrong once more.
Federer had surprised even himself by reaching the Melbourne final. He was playing in his first tour-level event in more than six months after taking the second half of 2016 off because of a lingering knee injury. Nadal, too, had missed the last five weeks of the 2016 season to rest his left wrist. But it was like old times again in Melbourne, with the level of tennis high from the start of their final.
During the first four sets, the players peaked at different times, with Federer starting hot but Nadal answering. In the fifth set, though, both legends were near their apex, and it looked like Nadal would take this 35th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting as he broke to start the decider. The 35-year-old Federer, though, would make his comeback even more special.
The Swiss fell behind 1-3 in the fifth set but reeled off the next five games, including two service breaks, to beat Nadal and claim his fifth Australian Open title and 18th Grand Slam crown in three hours and 38 minutes. The right-hander did it with his serve, 20 aces, and his backhand, which had been solid all tournament long and stood up to Nadal's topspin forehand as best as it ever had. Federer flattened out his one-hander and delivered several cross-court winners against Nadal, which forced the Spaniard to stay home and limited his ability to run around his backhand.
The two have now won a combined 32 Grand Slam titles. At 35 years and 174 days, Federer became the oldest Grand Slam champion since Ken Rosewall, who won three major titles in 1970 and ’71 after celebrating his 35th birthday.
2015 Swiss Indoors Basel final, Basel, hard, Federer d. Nadal 63 57 63
The long wait for one of the greatest rivalries of all time to be renewed finally ended, with Federer and Nadal drawn to clash for the ATP World Tour 500 series title in Basel. It had been 21 months since they last faced off on the hard courts of the Australian Open and both competitors were eager to notch another victory in the clash of titans. After more than two hours on court, it was Federer who claimed his sixth title of the season, seventh in his hometown and 88th of his career, clawing past his rival in a high-octane affair.
Predicated on an attacking mentality, both players looked to open the court and keep rallies short throughout. After splitting the first two sets, a Nadal double fault in the third game of the decider would give Federer a break chance to claim a potentially decisive break, but the Spaniard dispelled any such notion. He would win the battle, but the Swiss would win the war, grabbing the decisive break for 5-3 and serving it out a game later after two hours and three minutes on court. The former Basel ballboy out-aced Nadal 12-0 and struck 44 total winners. He converted on three of seven break points.
2014 Australian Open semi-final, Melbourne, hard, Nadal d. Federer 76(4) 63 63
Nadal and Federer had met on the same court exactly two years ago, when Nadal prevailed in four sets before losing out to Novak Djokovic in a near-six-hour finale. As they returned to Rod Laver Arena, it was with renewed hope for Federer that he might get his first Grand Slam win over Nadal since the 2007 Wimbledon final.
With Stefan Edberg in his corner and a larger racquet head paying dividends, Federer came into the semi-finals feeling confident on the back of impressive victories over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Murray. With Nadal also struggling with a troublesome blister on his left palm, would this be Federer’s chance to reach his 25th major final?
In short, no. Nadal produced an awesome display, punctuated with remarkable passing shots, to which Federer had no answer. While Nadal excelled, he needed to, to combat the high level of aggression from Federer. The Swiss did not relent in coming to the net, despite often being thwarted by Nadal's passing shots, and stepped in to hit over his backhand returns, instead of slicing them all.
But with Nadal looking to chase down Federer’s tally of 17 major titles, the Spaniard afforded Federer no mercy as he claimed the victory in two hours and 23 minutes, setting a final clash with Stanislas Wawrinka.
2013 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals semi-final, London, indoor hard, Nadal d. Federer 75 63
Federer had won all four of their previous encounters at the season finale, most recently in the 2010 title match at The O2, but Nadal defeated the six-time champion in straight sets to reach his 14th final of a remarkable year.
After three straight service breaks, Nadal closed out a hold to love with his eighth forehand winner to end the 43-minute first set. Federer, who needed to be aggressive, struck 11 winners and committed 15 unforced errors in a high-quality opener. In the second set, Federer committed a forehand error in the fifth game to give Nadal the break. Nadal tightened up his game and at 5-3, created one match point opportunity at 30/40. Federer serve and volleyed, but Nadal’s backhand return was low enough to get Federer into trouble. He hit a backhand volley long to end the 80-minute encounter.
2013 Western & Southern Open quarter-final, Cincinnati, hard, Nadal d. Federer 57 64 63
In arguably their most riveting encounter since their 2012 Australian Open semi-final, Nadal outlasted Federer after three sets of high quality tennis. The Spaniard needed five match points to close out the 32-year-old Swiss, extending his winning streak on hard courts in 2013 to 13-0 and moving one step closer to a 37th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final.
Federer executed a highly aggressive game plan early on, which included topping many backhand returns and attacking the net with authority. He would capture the first set on a late break at 5-5 30/40, but Nadal would refuse to succumb to his rival, turning the tables late in the second set. As Federer’s unforced error count rose to 44, Nadal continued to apply pressure on his serve with deep angled returns with significant pace. The World No. 3 took an immediate lead in the third set, breaking for 2-0 and holding serve from there to the finish line. In a dramatic final game, Federer rallied from 0/40 and eventually saved four match points before Nadal rifled a forehand down the line to close it out.
Nadal improved to an overall record of 21-10 against Federer with the win, ending the five-time Cincinnati champ’s bid to repeat.