With 37 grand slam victories between them, the two tennis champions are on track to meet again in the Wimbledon final and continue one of sport's great rivalries.

By Daniel Herborn


Posted on July 9, 2018

A decade after the pair met in what has been described as the greatest tennis match ever by no lesser authorities than John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg, the two evergreen champions seem on a collision course for another meeting in the final.

Aged 36 and 32 respectively, Federer and Nadal remain improbably at the pinnacle of their sport despite an influx of young talent such as Alexander Zverev, Denis Shapovalov and Grigor Dimitrov.

Earlier in 2018, Federer expressed the view that he shouldn’t be Australian Open favourite because of his advanced age by professional athlete standards. A couple of weeks later, he was Australian Open champion yet again.

Federal and Nadal still the players to beat

In the first week of Wimbledon, Federer was on a historic tear, winning all 41 of his service games without even being taken to deuce. He also won an astonishing 35 consecutive points on his serve against Lucas Lacko. Nadal has been similarly dominant and has not dropped a set to date.

With the tournament having now progressed to the fourth round, Federer will meet 22nd seed Adrian Mannarino while Nadal needs to beat Jiri Veselý to make the quarter-finals. With a raft of seeds having already been eliminated in the tournament, the path is relatively clear for another meeting.

If Federer progresses into the quarterfinals, he would play either Gael Monfils or eighth seed Kevin Anderson. Nadal’s opponent would be the winner of Juan Del Potro and Giles Simon. None of the potential quarterfinal opponents are easybeats but in their current form Federer and Nadal would start heavy favourites.

Styles makes fights: the Federer v Nadal rivalry continues at Wimbledon

While Federer is the top seed at Wimbledon this year, Nadal holds the number one ranking after he rolled through the French Open yet again this year and his groundstrokes looked as impenetrable as ever. The pair have alternated between number one and two on the rankings six times this year alone, another reminder of the ongoing closeness of their rivalry.

Yet the enduring fascination with their battle for supremacy has been about more than their evenly matched records. The two have always made for an intriguing contrast in styles with Federer’s balletic grace and apparently effortless efficiency providing an aesthetic contrast to Nadal’s unparalleled grit and stamina. A Federer Nadal match pits one of the sport’s best ever attacking players with one of its most redoubtable defensive forces.

While Nadal has been a titan on the clay of the French Open (Pat Cash previously told The CEO Magazine defeating Nadal in the tournament is “one of the hardest things to do in world sport”), Federer has always been more at home on the lightning fast grass of Wimbledon. He has eight Wimbledon championships to Nadal’s two.

The two have played a pivotal role in each other’s careers but it has never been a rivalry marked by bitterness. Instead, they have forged a strong friendship and the competition has helped boost both of their games to stratospheric levels.

“It’s been great for both of us,” Federer said of the rivalry in an interview with Tennismash. “I’m happy to call him a friend today.”