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Rivalries 2012 - Federer vs. Nadal


Federer, Nadal© Getty ImagesRoger Federer and Rafael Nadal added two more chapters to their famed rivalry in 2012. reviews how the key rivalries played out in 2012. Today we feature Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal

For the third time in four years (also 2009 and 2010), Federer and Nadal clashed just twice during the season, with the spoils again shared.

While many fans and experts agree that the Federer-Nadal rivalry is the greatest duel in the history of the sport, it is fair to say that their battles were overshadowed this season by Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray’s burgeoning rivalry. It is still firmly the fan favourite, though.

A few weeks after Federer had recorded an emphatic 6-3, 6-0 victory over Nadal at the 2011 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, their rivalry resumed in the semi-finals of the Australian Open. On Australia Day in Melbourne, Nadal came from a set down to defeat Federer 6-7(5), 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-4. It marked his eighth win over the Swiss in their 10 Grand Slam meetings (8-2 record).

Read: Federer vs. Nadal - The Rivalry

"I think sometimes, I play my best tennis against him when I am ready to play my best tennis. I don't play my best tennis because it's Roger,” said Nadal.

"It's true I played a lot of good matches against him during my career, so [it] is something fantastic. But I believe that he played a few fantastic matches against me too during his career, during our rivalry. I enjoy playing against him. It's always a special feeling because our matches always have been special, and especially today."

It was a defeat that began to spark questions about Federer’s prospects of ever returning to World No. 1 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings and breaking Pete Sampras’ record reign. With Nadal going onto contest an epic finale with Djokovic in Melbourne, their third successive Grand Slam final meeting, all signs pointed to the Spaniard and the Serb dominating the Top 2 positions in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, as they had done in 2011. 

While Federer had closed 2011 in a rich vein of form, he was still searching for his first Grand Slam title since winning the 2010 Australian Open (d. Murray) and had only featured in one other major final in that period, finishing runner up to Nadal in the 2011 Roland Garros final.

In his first match after the Australian Open, eyebrows were raised again as Federer was beaten by John Isner on clay in Switzerland in the first round of the Davis Cup World Group. But the Swiss responded with back-to-back titles at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (d. del Potro) and the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (d. Murray) and, playing with confidence on a 14-match winning streak, he was presented with the chance to avenge his defeat to Nadal when he faced the Spaniard again in the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

Federer squandered an initial 3-0 lead in their 28th meeting, but hit back to secure a 6-3, 6-4 victory. He would go onto defeat John Isner in the final to claim his 19th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy, tying Nadal’s record tally.

Months later Federer would achieve his No. 1 ambition, clinching a 17th major title at Wimbledon with victory over Andy Murray to usurp Djokovic atop the South African Airways ATP Rankings.

Federer vs. Nadal: 2012 Meetings

Tournament Winner Score
Australian Open SF Nadal 67(5) 62 76(5) 64
Indian Wells SF Federer 63 64

Federer vs. Nadal: FedEx ATP Head 2 Head

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