Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have undoubtedly dominated men’s tennis for the last decade and a half. Popularly known as the ‘Big Three,’ they share a combined total of 62 Grand Slam titles among themselves. The legendary trio reunited once again on Sunday at the ‘iconic’ Centre Court at Wimbledon.
Whilst Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic could cross paths in the Wimbledon final, Roger Federer is on his path to recovery. The Swiss star is expected to return to action later this summer, with Laver Cup being among his prime targets. After catching up with his long-term rival and good friend Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal could not help but reminisce their legendary battles on court.
Rafael Nadal stated that Roger Federer was his greatest rival ever. Seven time champion Mats Wilander believes that the two competitors have taken the game to a whole new level. “I think both of them have taken the game to a different level,” Wilander said.
Moreover, he believes that Roger Federer could have as many as 30 majors to his name, if not for Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. The former Swedish player opines that Federer has been pushed to a different level by the Spaniard and the Serb.
“Without Rafa and Novak, Roger could have maybe won 30 Grand Slams, but that’s kind of irrelevant. He was pushed to a different level by those two. As a tennis player, you’re not going out there to win the most majors, you’re going out there to improve your game and get to a certain level,” said Wilander.
“It’s the most interesting rivalry for me,” Mats Wilander reminisces about the ‘Fedal rivalry’
Nicknamed as ‘Fedal’ by their fanbases, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have left no stone unturned when it comes to entertaining their fans. Hence, Mats Wilander sees no surprise in Nadal naming the Swiss maestro as his greatest rival.
“Why does Rafa see Roger as his greatest rival? I think it has to do with history, of course, the matches you play… but also the enjoyment factor of playing against the opponent,” Wilander continued.
When Rafael Nadal broke onto the big stage, Roger Federer was in his prime and winning majors for fun. However, the Spanish teen halted his dominance in the mid 2000s. This is the reason why Mats Wilander believes Nadal enjoyed playing his rival, than the other way round.
“How can you not enjoy playing against Roger Federer? I think Rafa enjoyed playing Roger maybe more than Roger enjoyed playing Rafa because Rafa was the youngster, a leftie… difficult. The contrast of style [as well]. It’s the most interesting rivalry for me,” the Swede continued.
Roger Federer made a special appearance at the Wimbledon Champions Parade on Sunday, as the iconic tournament completes 100 years. Fans will be eager to see the Swiss maestro back in action on Centre Court in 2023, provided that he is able to remain injury-free and keep gunning for major titles on the tour.