Rafael Nadal>Roger Federer

When all the smoke clears after both of their careers are over, both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will be in the conversation of the best tennis players of all-time.  If you had to ask me right now which way I’d lean, the obvious answer to me is Rafael Nadal.  Here are a couple reasons.

  • Both have already won the career grand slam. People underestimate how difficult a feat this is.  Some of the all-time greats failed to accomplish this: Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl, Pete Sampras.   However, what puts Rafa over Federer was his ability to beat Federer on his best surface, grass.  On the flip side, Federer has never been able to conquer Nadal on clay.  Federer put up a great fight on Sunday and it still wasn’t enough.  Many people underestimate how great Federer is on clay because of his failures against Nadal, but it is more due to Nadal’s utter dominance than Federer’s shortcomings.
  • 17-8.  Nadal has this edge over Federer in head to head battles.  To be fair, a lot of these were on clay which skews it a little bit in Nadal’s favor.  However, as they said during the French Open coverage, “How can Federer be considered the best of all-time when he had this record against his greatest rival.
  • Federer has the current lead all-time for Grand Slam victories currently with 16.  Nadal is currently at 10 and is still only 25 years old.  The big question for Rafa is whether his body will be able to hold up due to his style of play.  If it does, he could surpass Fed’s number.  Federer may win another major or two, but he may be just as likely to never win another.  Another factor will be if guys like Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin Del Potro, and Andy Murray can consistently challenge Rafa.  Only Djokovic seems to be able to do so right now.

It’s a good debate to have and Federer showed that even at the end of his career that he still has some fight and talent left.  It will be interesting if he can follow up his great performance at the French with a run at Wimbledon.  Who do you got?

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2 Responses to Rafael Nadal>Roger Federer

  1. Ross says:

    They were just talking about this on the radio yesterday. I think it was Mark Stern on the “Sports Fix” on 980 said that Federer was ALREADY the best player of all-time. Admittedly I don’t follow tennis super closely, but is he really? I mean there have been some great players. I don’t know that I would say that definitively.

    In terms of Rafa vs. Federer, I’m a huge Rafa supporter, though I have nothing against Federer. But aren’t those head to head stats skewed a litte? I mean didn’t Federer’s real prime come before Rafa busted out? I feel like most of their matchs have come in Rafa’s prime and after Federer’s.

    • kevinjfisher says:

      If anything, I would argue the opposite in terms of their prime. Federer was in the prime of his career when Rafa was beating him. I would say Rafa didn’t reach his prime until the last year or two. The only reason the head to head stats is a little skewed would be because a lot of those matches were on clay which obviously is in Rafa’s favor.

      either way, they are both certainly in the conversation as best ever. Borg might be the only other one to consider.

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