Nadal vs Federer vs Djokovic: Which is the Best Tennis Rivalry?

Which tennis rivalry is considered the best?

Tennis fans mull over which is the better rivalry: Nadal vs Djokovic or Federer vs Djokovic. Nonetheless, the third and equally important rivalry is Nadal vs Federer. 

There is mutual respect between the two, and thus, their fans do not consider them as rivals although they are.

1) Nadal vs Djokovic

A rivalry that started in 2006, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have met each other for 54 times with Djokovic prevailing at 28-26. Nonetheless, theirs is considered as an underappreciated tennis rivalry.

Djokovic leads the finals with 15 against Nadal’s 11. However, Nadal is ahead with their Grand Slam matches at 9-6. Nadal also leads the French and US Opens while Djokovic leads the Australian Open and Wimbledon. 

The two played on hard courts (26), clay (24), and grass (4). Djokovic owns the hardcourt while, knowing Nadal as the King of Clay, he prevailed in clay. They are 2-2 on the grass court, though. Djokovic famously said also that “[Nadal] was beatable on clay.”

Some of their most memorable matches are the 2013 French Open and 2018 Wimbledon semifinal games. The latter lasted for five sets played for more than 5 hours.

This rivalry was dubbed as the third greatest men’s tennis rivalry of the 2000s.

2) Federer vs Djokovic

Roger Federer and Djokovic played with one another for 48 matches. Djokovic also leads the rivalry with 26-22. Despite this, this tennis rivalry is also underappreciated compared to the last one.

They met at the Grand Slam about 16 times —10 semifinals and five finals. Djokovic also leads their Grand Slam standings at 10-6. 

The most exciting aspect of this rivalry is that Federer used to be ahead of Djokovic until 2010 with 13-6. Djokovic grabbed the lead from Federer in 2011 with his record 20-9.

Yet another notable aspect of the rivalry is they are the only male tennis players to beat one another in Grand Slam titles. The two holds the record for the most number of Grand Slam tournament meetings.

Federer and Djokovic are the only two players who achieved the Sunshine Triple or those players who won the Australian Open, Miami Masters, and Indian Wells. Djokovic did it thrice while Federer, twice.

Their match results are even regardless of the surface they are playing. 

Although they have faced each other in the majors and other ATP matches, their 2019 Wimbledon’s final match has been the most remarkable. It was the longest match in the history of this major with 4 hours and 57 minutes.

3) Nadal vs Federer

The Nadal-Federer rivalry is one of the most historic rivalries of all time, if not the most historic.

Nadal and Federer played one another for 40 times. Nadal leads with 24-16; he also leads their finals meeting count with 14-10. 

The two have played in 14 major meetings, which Nadal also dominates at 10-4. Nadal leads the French and Australian Opens with 6-0 and 3-1, respectively. Federer owns Wimbledon with 3-1. They haven’t met at the US Open yet.

They played on hard courts (20), clay (16), and grass (4). Federer leads the matches on hard court and grass while Nadal dominated the clay court. 

Their most memorable tennis game was the 2008 Wimbledon final. Nadal and Federer played for 4 hours and 48 minutes.

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Who are you rooting for—Nadal, Federer or Djokovic? Let us know.

Five of the Greatest Men’s Tennis Players of All Time

Every tennis fan has their list the greatest of all time—their GOATs. That’s why it’s rather tricky to debate who the greatest men’s tennis players in tennis history are.

The stats cannot be the sole basis, though, because we are talking about pre- and the Open era. It means training, technology, and equipment are very different then. Tennis players have their preference also, excelling in grass or clay.

But, there is a need to establish who the GOATs are in the men’s tennis division. Here are our choices.

#5 – Pete Sampras

Sampras is famous for his powerful serve. The American dominated the tennis scene of the 1990s, ranking #1 consistently between 1993 and 1998. Turning pro in 1988 and retiring in 2002, Sampras has one of the stellar professional careers among men players.

Sampras, who seemed to be in his best elements when playing on hard and grass courts, has a total of 64 titles, 14 Grand Slam titles. His Grand Slams was the number to beat during his time. 

During the 2002 US Open, he beat Andre Agassi, his longtime rival. Even before the rivalries of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, theirs was considered as the rivalry of all time. The epic match made the 1990s a great decade for tennis. 

In 2007, Sampras was inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame.

#4 – Rod Laver

For some, Laver deserved to be the GOAT in tennis history. He won 200 tournaments throughout his career. He also has 11 Grand Slams and 9 Pro Slam titles. Laver won all Grand Slam titles for men’s singles within the same year. And he did it twice!

Also called “The Rocket,” Laver ranked as the world’s #1 between 1964 and 1970. He was inducted in 1981, two years after he retired in 1979.

#3 – Novak Djokovic

Djokovic is known for his fantastic backhand, which already won him 75 titles and 16 Grand Slams. In April 2019, he defeated his longtime rival Nadal in the Australian Open. He also beat Federer in 2019 Wimbledon.

The Serbian national is currently the world’s #1 tennis player. But he is no stranger to this spot; he held the same ranking in 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2015. 

He is also expected to win more Grand Slams throughout his last few years playing tennis. He was 32. Some even claimed he is well-positioned to surpass Federer’s Grand Slam record.

#2 – Rafael Nadal

Nadal has 84 titles and 19 Grand Slams as well as an Olympic gold medal under his belt. That’s thanks to his incredible agility and power on the court. This is more so on clay courts where he typically plays his best tennis. He has 12 French Open titles!

While he is nearing retirement at age 33, there is so much more to expect from Nadal. If not Djokovic, Nadal nay potentially snatch the most Grand Slam wins record from Federer.

#1 – Roger Federer

Federer is the men’s tennis all-rounder who deserves the top spot. The Swiss player has 102 titles and won 20 Grand Slam titles and speak for his tennis prowess.

Nadal’s greatest rival is recognized by Tennis Magazine as the leader in men’s tennis in its ranking of the 50 best tennis players of all time.

 

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If you were to choose men’s tennis GOAT, who would you pick? Let us know!

Player Feature: Novak Djokovic

Full Name: Novak Djokovic 

Birthdate: May 22, 1987

Birthplace: Belgrade, SR Serbia 

Years active: 2003 – present

ATP Rank: #1

Key facts and statistics

  • One of the Big Four of men’s tennis
  • Had the highest Elo rating
  • 16 Grand Slam titles
  • Held the 4 major titles at once
  • 5x ATP #1 tennis player in men’s singles
  • Has 75 singles titles

Novak Djokovic is dubbed as one of the best male tennis players of the Open era and of all-time. He ranks among the rosters of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Pete Sampras, and Bjorn Borg.

An aggressive baseline player, there is something unique about Djokovic’s all-court (albeit modern) playing style. He is known for his deep and penetrating groundstrokes. But his backhand underspin is legendary with its consistent pace and precision – even considered as the best in this era. 

Djokovic is both a defensive and offensive player. He can easily convert positions on seemingly defensive positions. 

He turns to his serves as a weapon to win free points. The same goes with his return of serves; John McEnroe even said that Djokovic is the most outstanding returner in tennis history.

Together with Federer, Nadal, and Andy Murray, they formed the Big Four. The players dominate men’s tennis division in terms of ranking and victories. Djokovic has the highest Elo rating of the four, though, because of his records in winning against quality opponents. He was the only player to defeat the top three tennis players within one season.

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) currently rank him as the #1 player in men’s singles. He was a five-time #1 player, grabbing the position in a total of 250 weeks. He was the only Serbian to achieve the ranking as well as win a Grand Slam singles title.

Djokovic has numerous titles under his belt; 75 titles. He has a total of 16 Grand Slam titles, reaching the Career Grand Slam title after winning the 2016 French Open. He was the eighth player to do so.

He was also the third tennis player who holds four major titles at once, on different surfaces. His major titles include seven Australian Opens, five Wimbledons, three US Opens, and one French Open.

He was consistently on tours since he started playing professionally as well. Djokovic has won 33 ATP Tour Masters, 12 ATP Tour 500s and five ATP Finals. He holds the record for being the only male player to win tournaments under Masters 1000.

With all these, he was always the consistent half on the best rivalries on the court. Not just against his Big Four contemporaries, but also Stan Wawrinka, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, and Juan Martin del Potro. In all their meetings, Djokovic prevailed.

One of the cited reasons for his court endurance and agility is his vegan diet. In 2010, his coaching team, which included Igor Četojević, a nutritionist, discovered that he has a gluten intolerance. Gluten was removed from his diet. He became stronger and quicker after the change.

Aside from playing tennis, he also devotes his time to his vegan restaurant in Monte Carlo that he opened in 2016.

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