The two greatest tennis rivals of the past two decades are, of course, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Because of the great rivalry between these players, one often thinks that their relationship off the court is not good either. So, are Federer and Nadal friends?
Despite the great rivalry on the court between the two, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are good friends. Both have great respect for each other, both professionally and personally.
As mentioned, Federer and Nadal deal with each other on a friendly basis. Read on to find out how their friendship has grown and what both have to say about each other.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are two of the greatest tennis players of all time and are fierce rivals on the court.
Since their first match in 2004, the Federer - Nadal rivalry has been intense, and they have now competed against each other 40 times.
Nadal leads the head to head with 24 victories compared to Federer’s 16.
Nadal unsurprisingly dominates the Swiss player on clay, winning 13 of 15 meetings, and never losing against Federer at Roland Garros.
Some highlights of the great rivalry include three Wimbledon finals in a row between 2006 and 2008, with Federer winning the first two and the Spaniard claiming his first Wimbledon in 2008.
That final in 2008 is not only widely regarded as the best Federer - Nadal match, it is widely considered to be one of the best matches in the history of tennis.
The two are titans of the sport. Every match between them is so eagerly awaited that it transcends even the tennis audience to a more general audience.
However, despite how competitive their relationship is on the court, Federer and Nadal are friends off the court.
In fact, they are more than that, as a bromance has developed between the two.
One thing that is important to note about both players is how exemplary their behavior is both on and off the court.
Federer is well known for his sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct, going above and beyond to be respectful.
His laid-back nature makes him very likable. He is undoubtedly one of the most charismatic, fair, and relaxed players to have ever stepped on a tennis court.
Similarly, Nadal is also known for his sportsmanship.
His only focus on the tennis court is to win the match. It is common for him to wipe away an opponent’s mark on clay courts (giving his opponent the point rather than having the umpire come and check).
He tries to play his best possible tennis and respects any opponent he plays against.
So, the two players have a lot in common, and these similarities and their good natures have led to a genuine friendship between the two.
It is rumored that they became closer friends when they were both injured in 2016.
Neither knew if they would be able to play professional tennis again, but thankfully for the tennis world, they were both able to recover.
They played together as a double’s team in the 2017 Laver Cup, beating Jack Sock and Sam Querrey.
The duo was all smiles as they played some great tennis, clearly enjoying playing on a team rather than as opponents for once.
They will compete together in the upcoming 2022 Laver Cup.
The two have also made substantial contributions to each other’s charities and have only respect for each other, as one never criticizes the other.
There are plenty of photos of the two laughing and smiling together.
As two people who come across as completely genuine and sincere, it seems very unlikely that they are faking this kind of relationship.
They may not regularly go to each other’s house for dinner. Still, it is unquestionable that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are friends.
A great example of their friendship was during a promotional video for “The match for Africa.”
They both keep breaking into laughter and can barely get one sentence out!
Of course, both players are often asked questions about the other at press conferences. When asked if they were rivals or friends, Roger Federer asked if they could not be both.
Federer often emphasizes Nadal’s importance in his own development as a tennis player.
Having a fierce competitor that he knew would not give him an inch on the court and would fight for every ball in every point forced Federer to raise his game.
It is something that he has pointed out many times, and he credits Nadal for being such an intense rival.
Federer has also said how he respects Nadal’s family and knows the Spaniard’s mother, father, and sister.
According to the Swiss player, they had regular chats at various points in their careers, telling each other about themselves.
They have also been known to have dinner together when together, like when they were promoting a tournament in Qatar.
As two of the best tennis players of all time, they are in a unique position to understand and relate to each other.
This is also true for Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, as the four players who have dominated tennis since 2004.
However, Federer has always said that it is Nadal that he is the closest with and that he feels most connected to him.
Federer has also expressed his interest in what will happen at the end of their careers and whether they will stay in touch or not.
Tennis fans certainly hope they will!
After their epic five-set 2017 Australian Open final, Federer said the following:
“There are no draws in tennis, but I would have been happy to share this trophy with Rafa tonight.”
Safe to say, that is not a regular occurrence in tennis!
Nadal echoes the respect and friendship that Federer has for his rival.
As a tennis player, Nadal is extremely complimentary of Federer. Even after beating him, Nadal will always stay humble and point out that if Roger plays very well, he has to play very, very, very well.
He will never hesitate to praise Federer as both a person and a tennis player.
One important feature of Nadal is that he is very reserved. Still, he has also revealed in press conferences that he has regular conversations with Federer.
However, when asked for any details of this conversation, Nadal will make sure to keep them to himself, honoring Federer’s privacy.
Yet another example of their respect and closeness.
In 2010, Nadal was asked whether he was a better tennis player than Federer.
“If somebody says I am better than Roger Federer, I think that person doesn’t know anything about tennis.”
He has always made his respect and admiration of Federer abundantly clear.
In a sport where rivals tend to not get along off the court and with lots of examples of players showing genuine dislike for their rival (think McEnroe and Lendl, or Sampras and Agassi), Federer and Nadal refreshingly stand out as actual friends.
Of course, it is possible that the two are not genuine friends and have been faking their bromance.
However, this would mean they have flawlessly fabricated their relationship for almost two decades.
As two players known for their respect and sportsmanship, it is highly unlikely that their relationship isn’t sincere.
The two have nothing to gain from faking their friendship.
If you are still doubtful over their friendship, then watch them when they are together and look at photos of them.
They always seem happy to be in each other’s company and have both said that they speak to each other regularly, or at least have done so in their careers.
There is no doubt at all that Federer and Nadal’s friendship is as sincere as they come.