When he retired, a part of my life has left with him” – Rafael Nadal explains why Roger Federer is his biggest rival

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Rafael Nadal’s ATP season ended with a disappointing run at the ATP Finals, where he could not progress beyond the group stage.

The 36-year-old had a fine season overall, adding two Grand Slam titles to his cabinet and another couple of ATP titles. He struggled with injuries and form towards the latter half of the season and will look to start afresh in 2023. He, however, is not enjoying his off-season by staying away from the court.

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer enjoying their time at the 2022 Laver Cup (Twitter)

The Spanish legend is currently in Buenos Aires, Argentina to play in the exhibition tour in South America. He and Casper Ruud flew off to the Argentine capital earlier this week and both will be seen in action on the tour that takes place in six cities in as many countries in a caravan format.

At a press conference in Buenos Aires, Nadal explained why he felt that the recently retired Roger Federer was his biggest rival. Nadal said that his game style and personality differ from Federer’s. The southpaw also mentioned how much he admired the Swiss superstar and added that a part of his life ended when the 20-time Grand Slam champion retired.

“Even if it’s true that I have played more times against Djokovic, when you have a rival like Federer and you start playing against him, it’s different. Because we have different gamestyles and personalities. We shared so many moments together on and off the court. I admired him so much. He is such an important personality for the sport. When he retired, a part of my life has left with him,” said the former world No. 1.

The first and last meetings between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the ATP Tour

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have faced each other on 40 occasions. The latter has a 24-16 lead against the Swiss legend. Both players have won a combined 42 Grand Slam titles together. Nadal can add a few more to the already-impressive number.

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – SEPTEMBER 22: Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer of Team Europe celebrate in the locker room after winning the Laver Cup during Day Three of the Laver Cup 2019 at Palexpo on September 22, 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Laver Cup will see six players from the rest of the World competing against their counterparts from Europe. Team World is captained by John McEnroe and Team Europe is captained by Bjorn Borg. The tournament runs from September 20-22. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images for Laver Cup )

The two players faced each other for the first time way back in 2004 in the third round of the Miami Open. Nadal was only 17 years old back then.

He defeated the then two-time Grand Slam champion and world No. 1 Federer in straight sets 6-3, 6-3. This set the tone for what turned out to be one of the greatest tennis rivalries of all time.

Federer and Nadal were fondly called by tennis fans ‘Fedal’ and they faced each other one last time on the tour at the semifinals of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships. Federer won the match in four sets 7-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Nadal was fittingly Federer’s partner in the latter’s retirement match at the 2022 Laver Cup. The legendary duo lost to the American duo of Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock in three sets.

Nadal will be defending his Australian Open title at the 2023 edition of the tournament. It is going to be the first Grand Slam event after the retirement of Roger Federer, who is a six-time champion at the event.

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