Behind the ‘raw’ photo of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal that captures their enduring friendship is the story of how they fought over the sport and how they have since become the players who they once were.
From their rivalry at the French Open in 2005 to their new bond as a team on the eve of this year’s US Open, the image of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal is a classic of its kind.
They are not only world bests in their own right, but they are also the two best players of the last decade, having won an incredible 10 Grand Slams and cementing their legacy as legends.
At the start of their relationship, Nadal made the comment: “I hate losing to Roger. I hate winning to Roger. I hate talking tennis to Roger.”
Federer – who was then at the time chasing his second major title and looking for his first Grand Slam title – responded: “Don’t worry, we’ll see how it goes.”
The pair met in the finals of the 2005 French Open, where Federer defeated Nadal in just 58 minutes. In the semi-finals, Nadal led 1-0 and looked likely to give Federer his first major title. However, Nadal lost the first set and was down a break in the second when Federer stormed past him with a double-faulting forehand, winning 6-1, 6-3.
In the final, their careers were set to end on a sour note, with France’s Joachim Johansson winning his first Grand Slam title to defeat Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6-8, 6-3.
The pair began their partnership in the US Open in 2010, going head-to-head in the quarter-finals, with Federer winning his first Grand Slam title in two years. Nadal however made a blistering start and powered through his first three sets in four sets, before losing 7-5, 7-5.
A year later in Cincinnati, they went into the semi-finals for the first time in their careers, and while there was the same battle over the baseline, this time it was not Nadal who took the first set. Federer, who was playing in his second US Open semi-final, led 2-0 in the opening set.
However, in the second, Nad