Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are two of the biggest tennis stars of their generation. They also have one of the most exciting rivalries in men’s tennis and have given fans showdowns like that of 2008 Wimbledon and the 2017 Australian Open finals.
But, more than their rivalry, the two are also known for their friendship. Affectionately, shipped together as Fedal by fans, the friendship between the Swiss Maestro and the 22-time Grand Slam winner is undeniable.
Most of the men’s players at the top of the rankings do share a degree of friendship but it is very clear that neither Federer nor Nadal share the same level of friendship with Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray as they do with each other.
40 Head to Head Matches
Throughout their careers, Federer and Nadal have met each other on the court for a total of 40 times.
The first time they played against each other was in 2004 at the Miami Masters. A then-17-year-old Nadal who was ranked No.34 staged an upset as he defeated then World No.1 Federer in the third round.
In 2005, they met again at the semifinals of the French Open where Nadal beat Federer to win his first Grand Slam title.
Federer has been an established player long before Nadal came on the scene but his presence was not treated by Federer with any animosity. Instead, they embraced each other as friends and have had one of the best Head to Head records in the history of the ATP Tour.
One of the best matches they played was at the final of Wimbledon in 2008.
The match lasted 4 hours and 48 minutes and was the longest final in the history of the Tournament. Not only did Nadal win but he also broke Federers winning streak on grass, which spanned more than 5 years.
That match is widely considered one of the best matches in tennis and the rivals Head to Head history.
Another poignant moment in the duos history came early in 2009 at the Australian Open. Nadal ended up winning his first Australian Open title. After receiving his runner-up trophy, an emotional Federer was not able to finish his speech.
Seconds after receiving his winners trophy, Nadal hugged Federer in an effort to console him.
Their last competitive match against each other was at the 2019 Wimbledon semifinals where Federer ended up defeating Nadal.
On September 15, 2022, Roger Federer announced that he was retiring from the ATP and will no longer be playing in any Grand Slam events. His last ATP Tour event will be at the 2022 Laver Cup which will be held at the O2 Arena in London.
The announcement sparked an influx of tributes from fans and fellow tennis players worldwide, all giving tribute to the impressive career that Federer has led. One of those offering tribute to Federer was his long-time friend, Nadal.
In a Tweet, he said:
Dear Roger, my friend, and rival. Iwish this day would have never come.
It’s a sad day for me personally andfor sports around the world. Its beena pleasure but also an honor andprivilege to share all these yearswith you, living so many amazingmoments on and off the court.
We will have many more moments to share together in the future, there are still lots of things to do together, we know that.— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) September 15, 2022
For now, I truly wish you all the happiness with your wife, Mirka, your kids, your family and enjoy whats ahead of you. Ill see you in London @LaverCup
The Spaniard also later added:
We will have many more moments toshare together in the future, thereare still lots of things to dotogether, we know that.
For now, I truly wish you all thehappiness with your wife, Mirka, yourkids, and your family, and enjoy whatsahead of you. I’ll see you in LondonLaver Cup.
Final Hurrah as a Duo
In his retirement post, Federer announced that his last professional match was going to be at the 2022 Laver Cup. Later, it was revealed that it will be alongside Nadal in a doubles pairing for Team Europe.
The Laver Cup is momentous for the duo as it is where they first played as teammates and not as rivals back in 2017.
In the closing of the Laver Cups first day, Nadal and Federer sat side by side and were clearly emotional, trying hard not to look at each other. It was a moment that capped off years of friendship and rivalry.
“When Roger leaves the tour, yeah, an important part of my life is leaving too.”-Rafael Nadal
In their post-match interview, Nadal continued to honor Federers career saying:
“For me, has been a huge honor to be a part of this amazing moment of the history of our sport, and at the same time a lot of years sharing a lot of things together,” the Spaniard said.
“When Roger leaves the tour, yeah, an important part of my life is leaving too because all the moments he has been next or in front me in important moments of my life. So has been emotional (to) see the family, see all the people. Yeah, difficult to describe. But, yeah, amazing moment.”
Nadal also said, “Roger was always there in front of me.”
“For me, he was always the guy to beat. So at some point, we were probably the biggest rivals - I think always in a very good way.”
“We have never had any big issues and always respected each other and our families too.”
“But our personal relationship has got better and better over the years, and we approach life in a similar way.”
One of the Best Friendships in Tennis
Their friendship has become its own sort of legend in the world of tennis that many have commented on it. A number of fans on social media have recently started sharing some of their favorite Fedal moments including this one:
Roger Federer ends his professional tennis career tomorrow in a doubles match partnering Rafael Nadal and so if ever there was a time to post my favourite photo of the two of them, it's now. pic.twitter.com/OLdwUhyPDD— Scott Barclay (@BarclayCard18) September 22, 2022
Retired tennis player and former doubles Grand Slam champion Rennae Stubbs also had this to say:
“I think that Roger and Rafa will be synonymous together and as they should be because both of them are just genuinely good, good fellows and incredible athletes.
“I think it was because they genuinely liked each other as people, I think that they had a genuine, genuine respect and liked one another as people. They were genuinely good friends. And I think the level of respect they have for one another showed on the court,” she added.
The Years Ahead
With the kind of friendship that Nadal and Federer have had, it is almost certain that the connection they have established over the years will spill over into their retirement.
It is more than likely that we will see Federer in exhibition matches and it is more than certain that Nadal will be along for the ride.