Tennis legend sheds light on contrasting challenges of playing Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, at the peak of their careers, dominated the court from 2006 to 2019. The Spanish star won the Roland Garros a record of 14 times and was dubbed the king of clay, while Swiss legend won the Wimbledon championship a record of 8 times, including winning it five consecutive times from 2003 to 2007 and was hailed the king of grass.

American legend John McEnroe, who won seven Grand Slam titles before retiring in 1994, has revealed that what Federer and Nadal did on the tennis court was insane and that he would never love to play against them.

John McEnroe reveals stark contrast in playing Federer and Nadal

John McEnroe, who began his professional career in 1978 and totaled 77 singles titles, is coaching Team America in the Laver Cup and has watched Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal rise to their peak and age. Although John McEnroe returned to the court in 2006 in the doubles category, he never played against the tennis stars.

Rafael Nadal
via People

“Federer is the most beautiful player I’ve ever seen,” McEnroe said on the SmartLess podcast. “You know I idolized Rod Laver. He was awesome. Whereas you look at Rafael Nadal, that’s not your typical or prototypical tennis player. His body is bigger up top. When we grew up, they were like ‘DON’T LIFT.’ The dream would be to play Roger at Wimbledon and the nightmare would be to play Rafa at Roland Garros on clay even though I grew up on clay and that was my best surface until I turned pro. But what Rafa did was insane.” 

In 2022, Roger Federer decided to hang his racket by playing one doubles match with Rafael Nadal at the Laver Cup. The Swiss legend had an emotional sendoff and many tennis stars and legends praised Federer’s decision to retire by partnering with his biggest rivalry Nadal in the same side of the net.

Who won more Grand Slam between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal?

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were friendly off the court but they produced one of the greatest on-court rivalries in tennis. The rivalry dates back to 2004, when Rafael Nadal won in straight sets at the Miami Open. The Spanish star went on to win 22 Grand Slam titles, including 14 Roland Garros titles, where he was crowned the King of Clay after losing the trophy thrice.  

The two legends have played each other 40 times and Rafael Nadal leads head-to-head 24-16. On the other hand, Roger Federer proved his prowess at the Wimbledon championship, a trophy he won eight times, including five consecutive years from 2003 to 2007 and the other three titles came in 2009, 2012, and 2017, and he boasts a 96-12 win-loss record at the tournament.

hi res crop north via Bleacher Report
Bleacher Report

The 37-year-old and 22-time Grand Slam winner triumphed over Federer in their younger days with 14 victories until the end of 2010. The Swiss enjoyed greater success towards the latter end of his career, with seven wins between 2015 and 2019. Federer retired in 2022 but Rafael Nadal is still hoping to get a major title before retiring, as he has announced that he will back to the court beginning with 2024 Australian Open in January.

What’s your take on John Mcenroe’s insight on two of the game’s all-time greats? Make sure you tell us in the comments.

Victor Okechukwu

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