THROWBACK: When Roger Federer Revealed a ‘BFF’ Moment With Rafael Nadal

Published 03/07/2021, 2:30 PM EST
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – SEPTEMBER 20: Rafael Nadal of Team Europe and teammate Roger Federer share a joke during the singles match between Stefanos Tsitsipas of Team Europe and Taylor Fritz of Team World during Day One of the Laver Cup 2019 at Palexpo on September 20, 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Laver Cup will see six players from the rest of the World competing against their counterparts from Europe. Team World is captained by John McEnroe and Team Europe is captained by Bjorn Borg. The tournament runs from September 20-22. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images for Laver Cup)


The tennis fraternity loves the great rivalry that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal share on the court. But with the rivalry, their friendship has grown as well. The Swiss Master has never failed to speak highly of Rafa, and whenever he has been presented with the opportunity, he has spoken about their friendship and how it has grown.

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Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer cheer for Team Europe in Laver Cup. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images for Laver Cup)

Federer is five years elder than Nadal, so naturally, he came to the ATP Tour before Nadal. Federer has seen Nadal grow with him, which has made the foundation of their friendship strong.

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Federer and Nadal are two of the most experienced players on tour, and thus they have their discussion around tennis, which always stays between them. This is what Federer is so glad about as he explained in 2019.

“I saw him grow, right in front of my eyes. He’s one of the guys from tennis – players – that I could call up and, if I told him something, it would be a secret between the two of us. And I appreciate that we were able to build a relationship like that.”

Roger Federer of Switzerland shakes hands with Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon. (Photo by Simon Bruty/Anychance/Getty Images)

Roger Federer remembers early days with a shy Rafael Nadal

Federer rose to prominence in 2003 with his Wimbledon triumph, and two years later, Nadal won the French Open. So their rise almost coincided and thus they have grown and dominated tennis together. During this time, Federer recalled a shy Rafa Nadal, who was agreeing to everything Federer was saying.

“We went in phases a little bit. In the beginning, he was so extremely shy and he was so — how do you say? — like, looking up to me, that he just said, ‘Whatever you say, Roger, I agree with you. Because you’re so important to the game. And I know you want the right thing,'” Federer said.

As they dominated tennis on the court, off the court, their friendship brewed and blossomed with their rivalry. And now they headline all the important decisions around tennis.

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“And over time, he became himself, the dominant player he became, and he started to build his own strong character. … And then, of course, the rivalry started building.”

Fans of both the players love the camaraderie between the two and often call them ‘Fedal’. Fans will remember Federer’s speech after the Australian Open 2017 final where he said he would happily trade a drawn match and share the title with Nadal. Such opinions have elevated their rivalry from others.

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Bhavishya Mittal

1068 articles

Bhavishya Mittal is a tennis author for EssentiallySports, who is currently pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Manipal University. A former sports editor for The Manipal Journal, Bhavishya has also worked for The New Indian Express. He has a keen eye for many sports but he is a particularly ardent follower of tennis, with a zest to create riveting articles on the ever-evolving sport.

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