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Rafa and Roger: The Rivalry

Rafael Nadal holds a 14-7 lead in the head-to-head series against Roger Federer.

ATP World Tour No. 1 Roger Federer of Switzerland and soon to be No. 2-rankedRafael Nadal of Spain met for the 21st time – and the first time in exactly a year – when they contested the final at the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open, an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tennis tournament.

By defeating Federer in straight sets, Nadal won a record-breaking 18th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy and became the first player to complete the sweep of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournaments (Monte-Carlo, Rome, Madrid) in the same year.

The pair has met 17 times in ATP World Tour and Grand Slam championship finals, the second-most final match-ups in the Open Era. All-time leaders Ivan Lendl andJohn McEnroe met 20 times in championship matches.

The Australian Open final in January 2009 was their seventh Grand Slam championship title-match (also 2006-08 Roland GarrosWimbledon), equalling the record of ‘Big’ Bill Tilden and ‘Little’ Bill Johnston, who contested seven straight US Championships from 1919-1925.

Nadal, who has beaten Federer three straight times in a Grand Slam final and five times in seven clashes, holds a 14-7 advantage in their career series. Below is a history of the duo’s 21 career meetings, beginning with their last match in the final of the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open May 2010.

2010 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Madrid F. Nadal d. Federer 64 76(5)

History was on the line as Nadal and Federer resumed their rivalry in the final of the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open, exactly one year on from their last meeting when Federer had prevailed in straight sets.

Nadal came into the match in devastating form, having surrendered just two sets in 14 clay-court matches in 2010, a run that had seem him crush the most well-respected of players en route to victories in Monte-Carlo and Rome. Federer was to be no exception. The Spaniard may not have been at his best at every stage of the finale, but he raised his level when needed to defeat Federer in straight sets and avenge his defeat in the 2009 final.

Victory for Nadal saw him win a record-breaking 18th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy and became the first player to complete the sweep of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournaments (Monte-Carlo, Rome, Madrid) in the same year.

2009 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Madrid F. Federer d. Nadal 64 64

After losing his past five matches to Nadal, Federer bounced back in style to end his title drought with a 6-4, 6-4 victory Nadal in the final of the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open.

2009 Australian Open F. Nadal d. Federer 75 36 76(3) 36 62

History would be made by the winner. ForRoger Federer it was the chance to equalPete Sampras’ all-time record of 14 Grand Slam championship titles, in front of 1962 and 1969 Grand Slam champion Rod Laver, and for ATP World No. 1 Rafael Nadal it was the opportunity to become Spain’s first Australian Open titlist in the event’s 104-history.

2008 Wimbledon F. Nadal d. Federer 64 64 67(5) 67(8), 97

Roger Federer was looking to clinch his 13th career Grand Slam title and sixth straight Wimbledon trophy. Rafael Nadalwas attempting to become the first man to win the Roland GarrosWimbledondouble since Bjorn Borg in 1980, and also emulate Spanish compatriot Manuel Santana – the 1966 winner at the All England Club.

For the complete report of their rivalry, click here.

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