The two greats meet in Shanghai
By Roger Childs
It’s one of the greatest rivalries in sporting history.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are arguably the two best players ever to hold a racquet, and they have won an incredible 35 grand slams between them.
They are currently one and two in the world, and well ahead of the rest. The Spaniard took the top spot with his grand slam victory in New York, and followed up winning the China Open in Beijing.
Meanwhile Federer hadn’t played since losing to Del Potro in the semi finals at Flushing Meadows. The Argentine was his semis opponent again, in Shanghai.
Juan Martín del Potro, was one of the big improvers in late 2016 and in the recent US Open was the beaten finalist. However after taking the first set against the Swiss in Shanghai 6-3, he lost the next two by the same scores.
In the final Nadal was the favourite on the basis of his two recent titles in The US Open and the Beijing tournament.
However, Federer thrives on the hard courts and immediately took the initiative. He broke Nadal’s serve in the first game and made no race of beating the world number one 6-4, 6-3.
The commentators were effusive in their praise for the Swiss, who never let the world number one into the match.
The modest Federer conceded that he had performed pretty well. I played a great match today with hardly any mistakes.
Nadal agreed: Today you played a fantastic match. So well done, many congratulations.
A wonderful rivalry
When Roger Federer plays Rafael Nadal, the spectators, commentators and television viewers know they are in for tennis of the highest quality. There have been 38 contests with Nadal leading 25-15. However the Swiss has won the last five.
Asked to comment on why he has had such a great run this year, Federer responded: not playing him on clay!
The Spaniard is undoubtedly the greatest ever player on the dusty red surface and leads his great rival 13-2 on these European courts. His 10 grand slam wins at Roland Garros is an amazing record, and four of these victories have been against Federer.
However the Swiss leads on hard courts 11-9, and on grass 2-1. Their clash at Wimbledon in 2008 which Nadal won 6-4 6-4 6-7 6-7 9-7, is considered to be the greatest match of all time.
What’s to come in 2017?
The climax of the men’s tennis year is the November Indoor Barclay’s tournament in London. Only the top eight ranked players are in the contest and they play round robin in two groups, with the best four competing in the semi-finals.
It’s a tournament that Nadal has never won, whereas Federer has held the trophy six times and been the beaten finalist on four occasions.
Prior to the London climax, there is major hard court tournament in Paris, and it is possible the two champions may meet there.
If they do, top quality tennis is a certainty.