- Roger Federer has paid tribute to his “chief rival” Rafa Nadal.
- The Swiss tennis player has said he would not be as successful were it not for Nadal.
- Nadal has a winning record against Federer but the majority of those victories occured on clay, a surface Federer decided to take a break from this year.
- The French Open, the clay major, takes place without Federer on Sunday – but it remains a competition he hopes to return to in the future.
Roger Federer has said that he would not be as successful were it not for Rafa Nadal.
Federer and Nadal enjoy one of the most thrilling, enduring, and competitive rivalries in all of sport. The pair have contested the top prizes in tennis for the best part of 15 years and are considered to be two of the greatest men’s players to ever grace the courts.
Federer claims that if it were not for that rivalry, he would not be the player he is today. “Playing against Rafa for so many years has been amazing – he pushed me to innovate, work harder, and to develop my game,” Federer said in an interview with Vogue on Thursday.
Federer has spent hundreds of weeks at the top of the world men’s ranking, has the most men’s Grand Slam singles titles (20) ever, and has a TV-friendly style that is aggressive and athletic. But he does not think he would be the same without Nadal as his “chief rival.”
Nadal is a 16-time Grand Slam champion who recently broke the record for most consecutive sets won on a single surface (50 on clay). He also has a winning record against Federer (23 wins against 15 losses).
The majority of Nadal’s wins occured on clay, a surface he has long dominated on. Federer recently decided to skip the clay season so he could be fit and fresh for tournaments he has tended to fare better on, like Wimbledon. However, he has not ruled out competing at the French Open, the clay major, in the future.
“If I wanted to stay on tour for a few more years, I could not play the same busy schedule that I did years back. I needed to balance everything in my life and make sure I had enough time for training, rest, and recovery… but hopefully I can play Roland-Garros again before my career is over,” Federer said.
The French Open begins, without Federer, on Sunday.