Federer vs Nadal: Five of the rivalry's greatest matches

Sport360 looks back at Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal's five classic matches as the two tennis legends prepare to face-off in the Australian Open final.

Sport360 staff
by Sport360 staff
27th January 2017

article:27th January 2017

It feels like we have gone back in time. Back to the future, in fact.

Before the tournament, the thought of Federer and Nadal locking horns for the 35th time in a showpiece Melbourne final would have been disregarded by most (Nadal lead’s their career head-to-head 23-11).


But on Sunday, we will see the two legends face-off once more in what is possibly one of the biggest clashes between the two, ever, period.

For Nadal, who downed Federer in the 2009 Aussie Open final, it will be his 21st Grand Slam final and the Swiss’s 28th, with the Spaniard leading Federer 6-2 in their major final meetings.

And with plenty of match action to choose from, Sport360 looks back at their five greatest battles:

5. 2005 ATP Masters Series Miami final: Federer def Nadal 2-6 6-7(4) 7-6(5) 6-3 6-1

Federer comes from two sets down to win this Miami epic in three hours and 42 minutes.

4. 2007 Wimbledon final: Federer def Nadal 7-6(7), 4-6, 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-2

The Swiss equalled Bjorn Borg’s feat of winning five consecutive SW19 crowns and proved he is still the master on grass.

3. 2006 ATP Masters Series Rome final: Nadal def Federer 6-7(0), 7-6(5), 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(5)

Nadal really cemented his dominance over Federer on clay with this impressive win.

2. Australian Open 2009 final: Nadal def Federer 7-5 3-6 7-6(3) 3-6 6-2

The memory of the Swiss crying during the post-match presentation will live on forever.

“God, it’s killing me,” – that was Federer’s remarks after losing a third major final in four against the Spaniard.

1. Wimbledon 2008 final: Nadal def Federer 6-4 6-4 6-7(5) 6-7(8) 9-7

Most people call this the greatest match of all time. And the final, which ended in near darkness, certainly deserves that accolade.

Nadal has been out of the Grand Slam limelight since his last title success at Roland Garros in 2014, as injuries sidetracked his glorious career.

The 30-year-old is bidding to win his second Australian Open title and become the first man in the Open Era -and only the third man in history to win each of the four Grand Slam titles twice.

Nadal and Dimitrov played each other to a standstill in Friday’s epic, with two tiebreakers going either way in a semi-final that ran well past midnight local time.

Federer, who beat fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka in Thursday’s first semi-final, was watching on with relish as his rival in Sunday’s final was taken the distance in a draining physical battle.

The last time both men’s semi-finals went to five sets at any Slam was at Roland Garros in 2009, when Federer beat Juan Martin del Potro and Robin Soderling defeated Fernando Gonzalez.


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Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal in 2017 Australian Open final: A look back at the five greatest matches of their famous rivalry

Sport360 looks back at Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal's five classic matches as the two tennis legends prepare to face-off in the Australian Open final.

5. 2005 ATP Masters Series Miami final - Federer wins in five.

5. 2005 ATP Masters Series Miami final - Federer wins in five.

4. 2007 Wimbledon final - Master Federer downs pretender Nadal.

4. 2007 Wimbledon final - Master Federer downs pretender Nadal.

3. ATP Masters Series Rome final - Rafa wins clay epic.

3. ATP Masters Series Rome final - Rafa wins clay epic.

2. 2009 Australian Open final - Nadal brings Federer to tears.

2. 2009 Australian Open final - Nadal brings Federer to tears.

1. 2008 Wimbledon final - Billed as the best match ever as Nadal wins in darkness.

1. 2008 Wimbledon final - Billed as the best match ever as Nadal wins in darkness.