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Rivalries Of 2013: Nadal vs. Federer

Best Of 2013

Nadal, Federer© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal won all four of his clashes with Roger Federer in 2013. reviews how the key rivalries played out in 2013. Today we feature the rivalry for the Ages: Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer.

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer resumed their much storied rivalry this season, exactly one year after their last match at the 2012 BNP Paribas Open. In one of the greatest seasons of his career, Nadal was largely unstoppable through to October and not even Federer could derail the determined Spaniard. 

They met four times this year, with Federer claiming just one set. Nadal improved to a 22-10 mark in their FedEx ATP Head2Head record.


One year after losing to Federer in the Indian Wells semi-finals, Nadal turned the tables on the Swiss just five weeks into what would be an exceptional comeback from the left-knee injury that kept him sidelined for seven months. With Federer hampered by a back injury, Nadal won their quarter-final clash in the desert, 6-4, 6-2, before going on to win the title (d. del Potro). 

"I played a fantastic first set, in my opinion. The second set was strange," said Nadal. "The second set, I think Roger didn't fight as usual. He probably had some problems and he didn't feel enough comfortable to keep fighting. Both of us tried to play our best."

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Nadal, FedererFederer’s fortunes did not improve when they clashed nine weeks later in the final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. It was their 21st meeting in a tour-level final and Nadal dominated, claiming a 6-1, 6-3 win in 69 minutes. At one stage, Nadal won 20 of 25 points on his way to claiming his sixth title of the season in just May. 

“It didn't go how I hoped and I was missing too many easy forehands and crucial points,” said Federer. “He does an incredible job returning form the back of the court and it is hard because he covers the court so well. You need to serve accurately. When Rafa is at his best he creates opportunities in rallies and dictates. It was difficult to change.”

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Watch Federer Cincinnati Hot Shot

The pair’s next meeting came in the midst of Nadal’s sterling summer hard court run. The Mallorcan swept the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns in Montreal (d. Raonic) and Cincinnati (d. Isner), before capturing his 13th Grand Slam title at the US Open (d. Djokovic). He defeated Federer 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 in the quarter-finals of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. It was arguably their most riveting encounter since their 2012 Australian Open semi-final, and saw Nadal outlast Federer after three sets of high quality tennis. The Spaniard needed five match points to close out the 32-year-old Swiss.

Nadal, Federer"I'm happy with my progress along the way," Federer said. "Could have won tonight, should have won tonight, who knows? But in the end, I think Rafa's confidence and the way he's playing at the moment got him through.”

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Their final contest of the season fittingly came in the semi-finals of the year-end Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. Federer had won all four of their previous encounters at the season finale, most recently in the 2010 title match at The O2, but Nadal defeated the six-time champion 7-5, 6-3 to reach his 14th final of a remarkable year.

"I think Roger played really aggressive, that's my feeling," said Nadal. "[At] the beginning, his serve worked very well. So in my opinion until 4-4, he was playing better than me. I saved a few break points, very important ones, and then I played a good game when I had the break… The key of the match was probably at 5-5, after he had the break back in the first set, when I was serving for the set. I got the break another time to be 6-5 in my favour. That was very important."

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Nadal vs. Federer: 2013 Meetings

Tournament Winner Score
BNP Paribas Open QF Nadal 64 62
Internazionali BNL d'Italia Final Nadal 61 63
Western & Southern Open QF Nadal 57 64 63
Barclays ATP World Tour Finals SF Nadal 75 63

Nadal vs. Federer: FedEx ATP Head 2 Head

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