Federer Nadal comeback combo

Rafael Nadal explains why ‘elegance vs warrior’ rivalry with Roger Federer is so revered

Rafael Nadal says his rivalry with Roger Federer is more iconic than his one with Novak Djokovic due to the striking clash of styles.

Nadal’s career has seen him go from a bitter rivalry with Federer early in his career to battling Djokovic.

No two players have played each other on more occasions than Nadal and Djokovic. They have faced each other 59 times with the Serbian shading it 30-29.

However, it’s the rivalry with Federer that is still talked about more, with many considering it the greatest that tennis has ever seen.

For Nadal, though, it was the stark clash or personalities and playing styles that is the reason it’s still so highly regarded.

Asked by El Pais why his rivalry with Federer is more revered than his one with Djokovic, Rafael Nadal said: “There are several factors.

“Some I won’t tell you because it’s difficult for me, it’s not my place to comment on them. But in terms of tennis, it’s clear.

“It’s a combination of very radical styles. Roger was perfection in terms of aesthetics, elegance, & technique.

“I have very good technique, but technique is not the same as aesthetics. They are two different things. He had incredible technique, doing things beautifully with impressive elegance.

“When I arrived, he was the number one in the world and a rival with long hair and an exuberant physique emerges. Elegance against a warrior.

“There was a unique combination of personalities and styles and that, combined with playing many matches on the most important stages, turned our rivalry into something that transcended more than any other match.”

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Michael Graham, Editor, has been a professional sports journalist for his whole career and is especially passionate about tennis. He's been the Editor of for over 5 years and loves watching live tennis by visiting as many tournaments as possible. Michael specialises in writing in-depth features about the ATP & WTA tours.