Rafael Nadal hulking up at US Open

‘Rafael Nadal grew up into a supremely strong character’ – Roger Federer reflects on iconic rivalry

Roger Federer has recalled the growth of Rafael Nadal, saying the have grown to have ‘the ultimate respect for each other’.

Federer and Nadal have locked horns for 16 years on the ATP Tour as they, before the arrival of Novak Djokovic, battled it out for supremacy.

It’s a rivalry that goes back a long way and has become one the most storied in sport, never mind just tennis.

And the growth of Rafael Nadal is something that has struck Federer.

“I remember Rafa when he was younger, he was so shy – he was looking up to me – and he said whatever Roger wants I’m happy with that.

“Then he grew into a much stronger character.

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“And then obviously the rivalry grew as we were No 1 and 2 the whole time.

“Then today with all the time that has past we’re on the final stretch in some ways. We see life very differently but we have ultimate respect for one another.

“We’ve done so many promotions together. We’ve done charitable things like the bushfire relief just now also in Australia.

“I’ve played him in Mallorca on the half clay, half grass court, I’ve played him in Madrid for his foundation, he came to Zurich to play in my match for Africa as well.

“It’s just nice to really get together.”

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.