Kolkata: Who says that all good things come to an end? Well, the ones who believe in this notion are oblivious to the joy that a Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal contest brings to the fans. And this epic rivalry in men’s tennis continued, as for the 36th time in the history of tennis, these two squared off against each other in the ongoing Indian Wells and in the end, just like the previous occasions, the better player emerged as the victor. It was Federer who had the last laugh this time.
Well not only this time, but the Swiss superstar has got the better of Nadal for the third time in a row. And the story of this epic thirteen-year old rivalry doesn’t end here. They both have shared some magical moments and have given their fans many a memory to cherish. If we go by the statistics, then out of the 36 matches played, the Spanish “Raging Bull” as many call Nadal, leads his Swiss rival by 23-13. But there remains absolutely nothing to be distinguished between the two when they are in action against each other. Quite arguably, this has been the game’s greatest ever rivalry.
But does this Federer-Nadal rivalry win cleanly over all the other epic face offs in the game of rackets amongst men? Looking back, one of the biggest rivalries in men’s tennis has been between John McEnroe and Björn Borg. They had completely opposite personalities-Borg was as cool as a cucumber while McEnroe was pure aggression. They both met each other 14 times and shared 7 victories each.
There was another great rivalry between Americans Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. Although they were fellow countrymen, it didn’t deter them from going toe-to-toe against each other and producing some memorable games. They both had contrasting styles of play, as Sampras relied more on his powerful serves in contrast to Agassi’s strong returns, whose ground strokes were a lethal threat to any opposition. These two met 34 times and Sampras quite clearly had an edge over his rival as he ended this epic rivalry 20-14.
Tennis fans wouldn’t forget a McEnroe-Jimmy Connors match, will they? Left-handed, just like McEnroe, Connors had that same passion and fire in his belly and that is what perhaps made this rivalry even bigger. Although McEnroe won 20 of their 34 encounters holding an upper hand over his rival, what made this rivalry nasty was the fact that both these stars did NOT like each other.
And yet not many would forget the classic encounters between German Boris Becker and Swedish star Stefan Edberg. But this Nadal-Federer rivalry stands out among all of them. Other than the longevity and the way with which they have carried it throughout the years, there’s a sort of a magic whenever these two face each other. Both have their own strengths and weaknesses as Federer is dominant on grass while Nadal is strong on clay. But this has never stopped both from respecting each other. And quite frankly, even though their fans divide themselves whenever these icons compete against each other, deep within they know the value that both these players bring to the game.
Credit can be also accorded to the role of the media which has hyped the Federer-Nadal on-court enmity to such an extent that today, the entire world swears by the name of these legends. Back in the days of Connors or McEnroe or even Borg, the media wasn’t as active as it is today as a result of which, their matches did not have that hype. Nonetheless, the good thing is that, this rivalry doesn’t end here.
Nadal might have missed out this time, but tennis fans would eagerly wait for his comeback. Federer, on his part, is en route to another title win, after pocketing the Australian Open some time back. With these two defying age and time, undoubtedly one can label them as the strongest ever rivals to have graced men’s tennis.