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‘He Is the Man, No?’ – Years Before Scripting True Tennis Rivalry, Rafael Nadal’s Humble Roger Federer Declaration Despite Heart-Breaking Defeat Is a Moment to Relish Forever

Published 05/20/2023, 3:53 PM EDT

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Both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer mesmerized the tennis world with their incredible rivalry for more than two decades. Although they served up exciting encounters almost every season, the 2007 Hamburg final showdown between the two was special for a few reasons. Rafael Nadal had an astonishing 81-match winning streak on clay courts, while Federer was at the peak of his powers as the world’s best-ranked player. Fans anticipated an epic clash between the two, and their expectations were surpassed as the ‘Swiss Maestro’ clinched the trophy. However, Nadal’s speech after the loss won the hearts of numerous fans and athletes alike.

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The match showcased the indefatigable spirit and skills of both players. Federer had unleashed his trademark elegant strokes and Nadal countered with unrelenting energy. In the end, Federer triumphed over the legendary clay-court streak of Nadal. In the wake of his defeat, Nadal could have expressed frustration or disappointment. Instead, he delivered a speech full of graciousness and humility.

When Rafael Nadal praised his rival Roger Federer after a thrilling match


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The ‘King of Clay’ had acknowledged the Swiss Maestro as the best in the world and made no sad remarks about his defeat. This moment showed the world how much Nadal admired the immense skill and accomplishments of his opponent. After the match, Nadal proclaimed, “I am not sad to lose to Roger Federer, the best player in the world. If I have to lose to someone, he is the man, no?”

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His concession spoke volumes about the admiration, respect, and deep understanding between the two remarkable athletes. Federer, aware of the significance of Nadal’s 81-match streak on clay, responded to his opponent’s speech with incredible respect.


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Federer paid tribute to Nadal’s talent and the immense physical and mental toughness required to achieve such a feat. Federer had declared, “I have the greatest of respect for someone who can win 81 matches on the trot like that – everyone knows how physically tough it is.

Nadal’s humble concession and Federer’s gracious response will forever remain etched in the annals of tennis history. The subsequent battles between the two would fuel excitement and captivate fans worldwide. Their shared humility that day in Hamburg would serve as a reminder that greatness can be measured not only in victories, but also in the way athletes conduct themselves, both in victory and defeat.

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The incredible Nadal and his impressive 81-win match streak

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Nadal achieved an impressive winning streak of 81 matches from the 2005 Monte Carlo Masters to the 2007 Hamburg final, remaining undefeated on clay throughout. This was the longest winning streak on any type of playing surface during the Open Era. It was an extraordinary run that remarkably came to an end. Throughout the streak, Nadal secured 15 clay titles, including two victories at the French Open. On multiple occasions, he defeated Federer in the finals of these tournaments.

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The match began with the expectation of Nadal easily surpassing Federer, but Federer had a different plan in mind. The first set posed challenges for Federer as he needed time to adjust to the clay court. Nadal took a comfortable 6-2 lead in the match. In the second set, Federer modified his serving technique and played brilliant returns. Nadal typically targeted Federer’s weaker backhand, but on that day, the Swiss Maestro’s backhand strokes were exceptional. Federer completely turned the tables and won the second and third sets, 6-2 6-0.

What do you think about this nostalgic match? Share your views in the comments below.



Dr Aditya Raveendran Menon

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Aditya Menon is a Tennis Writer at EssentiallySports, covering several high-profile tournaments and events. With a passion for writing that matches his love for the sport, he has a special interest in covering the activities of tennis legends like Serena Williams and the ‘Big Three’ of men’s tennis. Aditya’s interest in tennis started at a young age when his father introduced him to the sport.

Edited By: Tony Thomas