Years Before Making Deep-Rooted Roger Federer Regret, Rafael Nadal Could Blame US Open Over a ‘Crazy’ Rule That Wrecked His Desire

Published 08/01/2023, 1:36 PM EDT

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Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer had one of the greatest rivalries in sports. The Fedal rivalry drew in millions of viewers around the world as the two share tens of titles with each other. A match-up between them always promised to be an exciting one. However, even after all their matches, they have never played against each other in the US Open. They could’ve played in the American slam once, but the possibility was doused by the event organizers and the ITF.

Fans of Fedal aren’t the only ones who are bothered by no match between the two in New York. Rafale Nadal is also someone who has a slight regret about not playing Federer in the US Open.

How organizers failed to deliver fans a Fedal bout


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The US Open began in 2017 with all the buzz it usually does. Star players prepared to go far in the tournament, and fans were ready to cheer for their favorites. However, one fact became obvious to tennis fans – they would not see a Fedal bout once again. The American hardcourt slam would miss out on what could’ve been its highest-viewed match.

Federer was seeded third. But some argued that his place in the schedule should’ve changed since Andy Murray, the second seed, withdrew from the championship. Seeded third, Federer found a slot in the top half. But after Murray’s withdrawal, he should’ve moved into the bottom half, as changes are often made. Instead, the Swiss Maestro remained in his position, and the number 5 that year, Marin Cilic, moved into Murray’s slot. 


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The act even made John McEnroe feel incredulous. He said, “I don’t know exactly what the rules are, but when (Murray) pulled out, they should have put Roger Federer on the bottom half of the draw, and that would be problem solved,” John McEnroe said. “Instead they have some crazy rule, and I don’t get it.”

Read more – Rafael Nadal’s 12-Year-Old Prophecy on Arch-Rival Haunts Him to This Day as His Tennis Dominance Continues to Be in Jeopardy


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Federer would lose against Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarterfinal that year. If he had won, the first Fedal US Open bout would take place in the semifinal. However, if he played in the bottom half, he could’ve faced another opponent. This could’ve created the possibility of a US Open final between the two. 

Rafael Nadal on deep-rooted Roger Federer regret

Rafa interviewed for the ‘Roger Federer Effect’, which was an autobiography discussing the impact of the former Swiss player on the tennis world. Nadal fondly remembered his rivalry with Federer. However, he also expressed frustration at never facing him in New York. After tens of great matches, Rafa wanted to face him on the hard court in the US.


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With one possibility in 2017, Nadal’s wish would, unfortunately, remain unfulfilled. But he has the memory of a plethora of their other matches to soften the blow.

Watch this story – The Journey of Roger Federer to the Elite Billionaire’s Club


Written by:

Ripunjay Gaba


One take at a time

Ripunjay is a Tennis writer with an unwavering passion for the sport and a deep admiration for Roger Federer. He specializes in providing in-depth coverage of everything related to the 'Swiss Maestro.' Ripunjay's love for tennis is evident in the quality of his writing, which is characterized by its clarity, depth, and insightful analysis.
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Edited by:

Anupama Ghosh