We’ve often wondered how the friendship between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer evolved. Let’s face it, one can’t be regarded as the GOAT and still have a 10-20 record against another player. Right? Or so we thought. As it turns out, Roger is not at all affronted by Rafa’s success. The two share a deep friendship that transcends tennis, win or loss. We asked (Not) Roger Federer* to talk about Rafa and Fedal today, on Rafa’s birthday. Here is what he had to say.
When I first met Rafa, it was sadly on the other side of the court in Miami, March 2004 (the year after 2003). I remember the occasion only too well, like it was tomorrow. After losing that match, I went homes feeling defeated, staff said it was because I had been. They have since been fired. The first thing I did afterwards was grow my hair and get staff to cut all the sleeves off my shirts. When I realized how much this didn’t suit My fashion style, I watched staff sew them all back on again. This took a while.
I thought it would be OK, just a one-off defeat, a ‘flashing of the pans’ as the saying goes. But it was more like he was flashing in my pan and I really didn’t feel comfortable with that. Then my big chance arrived at The French Open in 2008. Staff have now deleted that match from every recording ever made. If you have a copy please send it to, Paul Anaconda for the disposals.
Then a couple of the weeks later that same year came Wimbledon (England). I remained excited! I knew that on the green green grasses of home I would show everyone just who the boss was. As it turned out, I kind of did.
I still wasn’t feeling the love. When months turned into years, the defeats kept on coming but something changed. Yes, My head to head to head to head record was not good against The Spanish One (Secret code for Rafa) but I felt there was a changing in the air. I began to feel the emotions of friendships. He was beginning to look like a friendly face over the other side of that giant net. At times I thought it would be nice to hang out together, maybe play scrabble or buy a movie theater. Things were changing. Every time we both walked out on court, the crowds would cheer louder than ever, the commentators were in the frenzies, the press were writing more quickly. This had turned into something very special.
There have been many great partnerships on this earth. Posh and Becks, Brad and Angelina, strawberries with the creams and of course, Romeo and Juliet…. But in My eyes (and staff’s eyes) there will only ever be one name that will last for tennis eternity. ‘FEDAL’ . I also hope to one day find out what this actually means.
So here we are again, at The French Open 2013 (France). Will it be another FEDAL final? You will see, and so will I.