Behind the ‘raw’ photo of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal that captures their enduring friendship, their mutual appreciation of each other’s game and their dedication to each other, is a far deeper and more complex relationship than first meets the eye.
Federer’s support, which is now legendary, was always mutual. It’s a relationship based on the need to do good for the other person, not the desire to be seen as the good one. Both understand that no one has to win at any cost — only to have the victory be the best for the other — and that can’t be a coincidence.
While the players talk about each other in intimate terms, their real conversations are conducted in front of tennis media and fans on tennis.com, where they talk about other topics besides tennis, sports or sports trivia. What they really talk about is tennis.
From the way they interact with fans, to their interest in their fellow players, they don’t act like best friends, but more like a tennis equivalent of a high school gang. That’s why Federer has been named in the annual “50 Greatest Tennis Players” poll, and why the first time someone saw the two, they were talking about tennis. Then they found out who was behind the two, and it became a tennis phenomenon.
The more we know about the men who made tennis great, the more the players know about each other.
In an era that’s come to be defined as “the game has changed,” some of the defining moments in tennis history have been the way these five have interacted.
Federer’s support and devotion to the other
Rafael Nadal is Federer’s idol. That’s never more evident than at the moment after Federer’s loss to Novak Djokovic in the first round of the Australian Open in December 2010. His phone was ringing constantly. He would get phone calls from people who wanted to talk to him. He was worried.
He didn’t like