When we talk about men’s tennis in the modern era, two names always spring to the forefront of my mind.
In my lifetime, no two players have been so synonymous with men’s tennis as Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal. Federer has always been a master of the Wimbledon grass – fluent and stylish in his approach, while Nadal has conquered the French clay like no other with his powerful ground strokes.
Sunday’s emphatic defeat of Stan Wawrinka marked Nadal’s tenth French Open victory, a feat not matched by any other man to enter the hallowed arena at Roland Garros. Throw into the mix that Nadal failed to drop a set all tournament (for the third time) and you’ve got a pretty compelling moment in sporting history on your hands.
Nadal’s unprecedented ‘La Decima’ is his 15th Grand Slam overall, just three short of Roger Federer’s astounding tally of 18 – so who better to comment on the incredible triumph than the Swiss Grand Slam king himself? Posting a tweet after the final, Federer congratulated his greatest rival.
A sport built on historic rivalries, tennis has seen some amazing grudge matches over the years. McEnroe versus Connors, Agassi versus Sampras, Becker versus Edberg – the list goes on.
Looking from afar, Federer and Nadal should have nothing but animosity towards each other. The pair went head-to-head at three straight Wimbledon finals between 2006 and 2008, with Federer taking two (2006 and 2007) and Nadal the one (2008). Recently, the two squared off in the 2017 Australian Open final, which Federer won, sparking celebrations that two of history’s greats were at it again.
Having played each other a whopping 37 times, Nadal is currently 23-14 up against his Swiss rival – but there is nothing but respect between the two men, as proven by Federer’s post-match tweet. With the likes of Australian player Nick Kyrgios bringing the sport into disrepute over recent months, it’s nice to know that tennis still has some gentlemen left.