Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have officially ended the year as World Number 1 and 2 respectively. The pair have been subject to one of the greatest sporting rivalries of all time. In their last 10 meetings, Nadal won 5 times consecutively, which was instantly matched by Federer.
Although they are unquestionably two of the greatest tennis players of all time, the question of “who is better?” still remains unanswered. Nadal currently leads the 13-year-old rivalry with 23 wins, against Federer’s 15. Roger Federer holds the record for most Grand Slam wins with 19. Nadal follows Federer closely with 16, but is also 5 years his junior. They have both won all four major Grand Slams, as well as an Olympic Gold Medal
One of the most striking aspects of the rivalry is the level of respect between the two players. In fact, they do not even acknowledge any animosity whatsoever. When questioned about the rivalry, Rafael Nadal stated, "If anyone says I am better than Roger, they don’t know anything about tennis". Roger Federer felt a similar admiration for the Spanish great. When asked about his relationship with Nadal, the Swiss replied, “I’m his No. 1 fan. I think his game is simply tremendous. He’s an incredible competitor and I’m happy we’ve had some epic battles in the past”.
In an inspirational turn of events, it appeared that Nadal and Federer’s careers were slowly coming to a painful end through injury. In 2014, Nadal slipped from World Number 1 to World Number 10 in the space of a year. However, he fought back by winning 2 of the 4 available Grand Slams this year, thus reclaiming his Number 1 position. The other two Grand Slams of 2017 were won by Roger Federer, who, incredibly, began the year at a record-low world ranking of 17 - also due to injury.
Although the two legends may be getting older, it is clear that they remain dominant. They continue to effortlessly brush past their younger competitors, whilst still adding to their trophy cabinets. Instead of arguing who is greater, we should appreciate having the honour of watching these two icons remain on top of their game for all these years.