Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal – whose personal rivalry has defined the sport of tennis in recent years, combining for 25 of the last 30 Grand Slam titles – will play a pair of exhibitions on 21 and 22 December. Both matches will air live on ESPN. The two indoor hard-court best-of-three set matches will take place in each player’s home country, benefiting his charitable foundation.
On Tuesday 21 December at 9 pm CAT, the two legends will meet at Hallenstadion Arena in Zurich, Switzerland, benefitting the Roger Federer Foundation. A day later, they will play again, at La Caja Magica in Madrid, Spain, at 8 pm with proceeds going to Fundacion Rafael Nadal.
Chris Fowler and Patrick McEnroe will call the matches for ESPN.
“Federer and Nadal have rarely played each other on a hard court surface – and never at the US Open – so it will be fun to see their styles in this environment,” McEnroe said. “Being indoors, a quicker surface where the ball doesn’t bounce as high, favours Federer, the more aggressive player. But he’s five years older than Rafa, so for me it’s more about seeing where he is heading to in 2011 than Nadal, who clearly supplanted Roger as no. 1 this year. I believe Roger can and will still win majors, but every time it’s Nadal who’s the man to beat.
“These are called exhibitions, whenever these two guys square off, the competitive juices start flowing and the crowds and spectacle will be terrific as each plays in his own country,” McEnroe continued. “Certainly no two other players in the world could pull this off.”
Federer said, “I always enjoy playing Rafa on the big stages and it is especially exciting when we can do it to help raise monies for our foundations. I am sure that the fans in Zurich, Madrid and those around the world who will catch it on TV or the internet will see some exciting tennis for a great cause.”
Nadal added, “Playing Roger is always something special for me. I think it is also special for the fans since we played great matches all these years. But to play for a special cause as we are in Switzerland and Spain in December makes it even more special since we are helping also other people”
The Federer-Nadal Rivalry
Although Federer and Nadal have dominated the top of men’s tennis for the last eight years, they have not often met head to head. They held the top two rankings on the ATP Tour for more than four years (July 2005 - September 2009), and are the only pair of men to finish five consecutive calendar years at the top. Nevertheless, their personal rivalry stands at only 21 matches. However, 17 of those were in tournament finals, including seven in Grand Slam events. Nadal leads overall 14-7, thanks to a 10-2 advantage on clay. On hard courts, such as in these exhibitions, they are even at three wins each. Their 2008 Wimbledon final is widely regarded as the greatest tennis match in history. In the longest final in Wimbledon history (4 hours and 48 minutes) and ending in near darkness, Nadal ended Federer’s five-year reign 6–4, 6–4, 6–7(5), 6–7(8), 9–7.