ATP Legacy: Where Nadal & Federer's Legendary Rivalry Began

  • Posted: Mar 31, 2022

ATP Legacy: Where Nadal & Federer’s Legendary Rivalry Began looks back at their clashes in Miami in 2004 and 2005

The rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal is renowned in tennis circles and throughout the wider sports world. What some might not know is that the first two clashes between the two superstars came at the same tournament — the Miami Open presented by Itau.

Federer entered the pair’s third-round meeting in 2004 as the No. 1 player in the ATP Rankings, fresh off a title run at Indian Wells. Nadal was a 17-year-old on the rise, but still World No. 34 and known for his clay-court prowess.

What followed was a stunning display by the Spaniard, who clinched their first battle 6-3, 6-3, on hard courts no less.

“I’m very happy because I played one of the best matches in my life,” Nadal said at the time. “Obviously, he didn’t play his best tennis and that’s the reason why I could win. I mean, if he had played his best tennis, I would have had no chance. But that’s what happens in tennis. If a player like me plays at a very, very good level and a top player like Roger doesn’t play his best tennis, I can win.”

One year on, the pair met in the Miami final. Nadal once again appeared ready to stun the Swiss. However, Federer rallied from two sets down to deny the teen 2-6, 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-1.

“It’s one thing to come back from two sets to love and then start the fifth and then in the end lose. So I’m really happy that I came back, because… I’ve hardly ever done it in my career,” Federer said. “This is a big moment in my career. Especially in the finals against a player of this calibre, to really come back, this is not the normal thing I’m doing usually.”

Federer and Nadal have played 38 times since then, with the Spaniard leading their ATP Head2Head series 24-16.

Source link