Who’d have thought six months ago that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal would dominate throughout the 2017 season?
Nadal and Federer are ranked No.2 and No.3 respectively on the ATP Tour rankings. But when we’re considering performances this year alone, the two legends are undoubtedly leading the field.
Consider Federer. The Swiss, who shut down his season after Wimbledon last year and disappeared from view for six months, resumed with question marks around his physical health, completely devoid of match play and having reached the advanced age of 35.
He’s now a two-time Grand Slam champion in 2017, the winner of the Australian Open and Wimbledon trophies as well as prestigious titles at Indian Wells and Miami. His overall Grand Slam singles tally is sitting at 19, with every chance of increasing.
Nadal scooped the other major at Roland Garros, bringing his tally of French Open crowns to a staggering 10 and his overall count to 15. The Spaniard, like Federer, endured an injury-plagued 2016 that forced him to pull out of Roland Garros, skip Wimbledon and terminate his season in early October.
And, like his rival, he’s returned rejuvenated, winning titles in Monte Carlo, Madrid and Barcelona, reaching finals at the Australian Open, Miami and Acapulco, and building a sparkling 46-7 win-loss record.
As he and Federer have together collected the most sought after silverware this year, everyone else has been unable to keep pace. Nadal has compiled 7,095 ranking points in 2017 alone, while Federer is a touch behind with 6,545; the next best is third-placed Dominic Thiem, with 3,345. Andy Murray, the current world No.1, is ninth in the race to the year-end ATP World finals in London.
Federer and Nadal team up to represent Team Europe at September’s Laver Cup, yet before they do, we may first see them resume their rivalry as the North American hardcourt season unfolds.
The last time Federer and Nadal faced off was in the Miami final, a match Federer won in straight sets. Federer did the same when they met at Indian Wells, and also won their Australian Open decider in five thrilling sets.
Since then, the “Fedal” series has been on hold. Federer sat out the entire clay season as Nadal ran rampant, only for Nadal to miss the bulk of the grass swing as Federer returned to action. At Wimbledon, Nadal’s only grasscourt event, the Spaniard fell early, preventing another Grand Slam showdown between the two enduring icons.
Federer and Nadal first occupied the top two rankings in the game as far back as 2005. Twelve years on, they’re almost certain to do so again.
Yet in all that time, in all those meetings on all those surfaces at tournaments throughout the world, rarely have they crossed paths during the US summer hardcourt season.
In fact, in 37 career meetings, just one of those have come during the US Open Series – a quarterfinal at Cincinnati in 2013, which Nadal won in three sets. They’ve never squared off at Flushing Meadows, the only Grand Slam venue at which they are yet to lock horns.
Is this the year that changes?
If it is, fans are in for a treat – a unique situation in which they’ll see the two titans go all-out against one another before just two weeks later appearing on the same side of the court in Prague.