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What happened when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal met for the first time?

Roger Federer is a winner of 20 Grand Slam titles while Rafael Nadal has 19 to his name

16 years ago, tennis witnessed one of its greatest ever rivalries when a teenage Rafael Nadal took on then-World No. 1 Roger Federer.

On 28 March 2004, a 17-year old Nadal squared off against the best tennis player on the planet – Swiss Roger Federer. The clash took place in Miami and kickstarted a rivalry that would go down as one of the best ever in the game.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal laver cup 2020
Two tennis superstars and longtime on-court rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer engage in a conversation during last year’s Laver Cup. (Getty Images)

It seemed to a rather usual third-round match for the Swiss, however, he was up for a big surprise against a young Nadal.

Federer was already a two-time Grand Slam champion at that time, while, Nadal, touted as an upcoming star was ranked 32nd and had never won an ATP title before.

The young Spaniard went on to create one of the greatest upsets, knocking off Federer 6-3, 6-3, much to the surprise of many in the tennis world.

Ever since their first meeting that day, the two great tennis stars have gone on to create memories for the tennis fans to cherish forever.

Nadal leads head-to-head against Federer

Despite being one of the greatest of all-time, Nadal has a head-to-head advantage against Federer.

However, the Swiss still is ahead of Nadal in terms of the number of Grand Slam titles won. To date, Federer has bagged a record-20 Grand Slam titles while Nadal is just one short of the Swiss genius with 19 to his name.

Roger Federer Rafael Nadal inspirational quotes
Nadal alongside Roger Federer after winning the 2009 Australian Open title. (Getty Images)

The two have met each other 40 times in the past with Nadal leading 24-16. Their most recent outing was at the 2019 Wimbledon semi-finals, where Federer overcame his strongest ever opponent to book a place in the summit clash.

Out of their 40 meetings, 20 have been on hard court, 16 on clay and four on grass. Federer leads the Spaniard 11-9 and 3-1 on the hard and grass courts respectively, while the ‘King of Clay’ has an unassailable 14-2 lead in clay -his most favourite surface.

Roger Federer French Open
Roger Federer congratulates Rafael Nadal after losing to the Spaniard in the semifinals of the 2019 French Open. (Getty Images)

The pair have met each other 14 times in the Grand Slams with Nadal leading his senior counterpart 10-4 in it. Nadal is also ahead of the Swiss genius in the Finals, with a 14-10 lead to his credit. The two, however, have not yet met each other in the US open so far.

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