Spanning an ongoing 14 year rivalry Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have battled one another a delightful 38 times. The objective of this article is to ask the question, 'Who is better than who?' Who has more victories over the other guy? Is it Advantage Federer or Advantage Nadal? The numbers may surprise you. To begin the debate let's first start with a look at each players career.
Mr. Smooth as Swiss chocolate, Roger Federer has all the charisma and athletic talent in the world. No other player has ever made tennis look so graceful and effortless. Rafael Nadal, nicknamed 'The King of Clay' because of his 10 Roland Garros titles and 'Spain's Raging Bull', has the speed, power, and intensity of the Encierro. One could argue that no other player has ever had more confidence and belief in him or herself.
This fact is well documented by his very first match against the 'The Swiss Maestro' which took place at the Miami Open in 2004. At the time Federer was #1 in the world and dominating the sport. Nadal was a young 17 year old teenager ranked 37th in the world and was virtually unknown. He rose to the challenge that day and won in straight sets 6-3 6-3 shocking Federer and the tennis world. From that victory he took away the knowledge that it was possible to play almost perfect tennis, and that he could beat the best player on the planet.
So what has happened on court since that time? Well, most recently Federer claimed a clean sweep over Nadal beating him all four times they played this year. One of those victories came in the championship match at the Australian Open securing his incredible 19th Grand Slam title. Nevertheless, it is Nadal who has more victories over Federer than Federer has over him. Their head-to-head stands at 23-15. That's an unbelievable 61% winning ratio. Here's how it all adds up:
Grand Slam Results
Australian Open: Advantage Nadal 3-1
French Open: Advantage Nadal 5-0
Wimbledon: Advantage Federer 2-1
U.S. Open: The two have never met here
Go ahead and tally that up. Nadal is an incredible 9-3 vs. Federer in Grand Slam matches. 7-3 in championship round matches. These lopsided results cannot be emphasized enough in the debate over who is better than who head-to-head.
Court Surface Results
Hardcourt: Advantage Federer 11-9
Clay: Advantage Nadal 13-2 (He won first 11 meetings on his favorite surface)
Grass: Advantage Federer 2-1
And, don't forget to account for the Battle of the Surfaces match in 2007. This exhibition match pitted the worlds best grass court player (Federer) against 'The King of Clay' to see who was better than who when the playing field was leveled. The court was half clay and half grass and the players were given additional time between change-overs to switch shoes for the different surfaces. Guess who won? You guessed it...Nadal 7-5, 4-6, 7-6.
So, head-to-head who is better than who? Federer or Nadal? The answer is clearly Nadal which is painful to admit as an enormous Federer fan. More often than not Nadal is the winning bet. Currently he stands just 3 Grand Slam titles shy of Federer's incredible tally and he is 5 years younger. Who knows what level of success he may achieve in the seasons to come. Nadal just might catch up. He might even pass Federer's record. Only time will tell. However, until he does Federer stands supreme.
Remember, this debate is not asking who is the better tennis player. The answer to that question is simple...it is Roger. No doubt about it. He has the most complete game the sport has ever witnessed. Have you seen his tweener (see video below)? No other player does what Roger does on court. No other player is quite so talented, accurate, and good under pressure. His tennis game is masterful.
Federer's Grand Slam title count (19) and total weeks at #1 (302) place him securely atop the list of greatest players of all time. Those results simply cannot be debated.
Who do you think is better than who playing head-to-head and why? Form your argument and comment below.