The 2017 Australian Open final marked the 35th time Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal faced each other. Popularly regarded as one of the best rivalries of the present era, the duo first played against each other in 2004. In the decade to come, Nadal and Federer produced few of the finest tennis matches ever played in the history of tennis. Here’s a compilation of the few of the memorable fixtures they have played over the years.
1. 2004, Miami Masters
This was the beginning of something that only a very few would have anticipated at that time. The first time Federer met Nadal in a fixture. Over the next decade and a little more this was to become one of the greatest rivalries across sports. At the third round of Miami Masters Nadal, then a 17-year old youngster, not defeated the then number 1. Roger Federer, but defeated him in straight sets thereby announcing his arrival at the highest level of sports.
2. 2006, French Open
Still just a 20-year old, Nadal was already the defending champion and one of the bests of the game. Federer was creating new milestones as well with a 7-0 record in Grand-slam finals which included the last three. Federer quickly one the first set, but Nadal in perhaps one of the greatest comebacks ever, came strong to win three consecutive sets and win his first ever Grand-slam.
3. 2007, Wimbledon
Federer won his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title defeating his arch rival Nadal 7-6 (7), 4-6, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-2 in the first 5-set Grand-slam final played between them, joining as the only players to do that in a century.
4. 2008, Wimbledon
Nadal had won 4 consecutive French Opens and Federer 5 consecutive Wimbledon and these two met yet again in the finals of the 2008 Wimbledon. This was later known as the best match in the history of Rafa-Roger rivalry. Amidst rain delays and some breathtaking rallies the match went on to become the longest ever in Wimbledon History lasting 4 hours and 48 minutes. Nadal won the first two sets, Federer came back hard winning the next two in tiebreakers and the last set went all the way down to the wire and at last ended when Federer hit a short forehand into the net. The final score was 6–4, 6–4, 6–7 (5), 6–7 (8), 9–7 enough to tell the story but not enough to tell the emotions involved.
5. 2017, Australian Open
Their first meeting in a Grand-slam since 2011, this was a different context altogether. Federer came into the tournament seeded 17th, Nadal 9th; both were perhaps past their best and out from competitive sport due to injury before the tournament. But come the bog tournament come the legends back in the finals. Federer came back from a break down in the fifth set to take the match, becoming the first man in history to win 18 Grand Slam singles title and the first man to win at least five titles at three different Grand Slam tournaments.