Roger Federer v Novak Djokovic is tennis' best rivalry

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At the start of this year, almost everything you heard was about the rivalry between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Roger Federer was just a side-note, but look at how much can change in a couple of months.

It was something of a crescendo if you rewind the clocks back to the French Open. Would Djokovic, the in-form man, finally complete his Career Slam, at the third attempt, in the fortress of his most fiercest rival. Or would Nadal win a record eighth Roland Garros title to equal Pete Sampras' major haul.

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Of course it was the Spaniard that came through when it mattered once again, in yet another epic between the pair.


However, roll the clocks back forward, a lengthy wrist injury and a bout of appendicitis later, and all of a sudden the question is; Rafa who?

It's hardly the newest rivalry on the block, but what a resurgence Djokovic/Federer have had in Nadal's absence. It's as if a married man has gone back to his ex-lover because his partner doesn't want to play anymore.

The latest episode between the pair was only a few days ago at the Shanghai Masters semi-finals. Now Federer may be 33 and on a decline, but he still taught the current world no.1 a lesson or two in a straight-sets win.


"It was definitely one of the best matches he has played against me, that's for sure," the Serbian star was forced to admit "He's playing as good as ever."

Perhaps the Swiss legend was still seething at how the Wimbledon final went earlier this year. Djokovic ruined the fairy-tale for Federer, his fans and most tennis neutrals, it has to be said, when he denied the veteran his elusive Grand Slam no.18 with a classic five-set victory on Centre Court. 

Following the SW19 final in July, it probably reaffirmed many people's beliefs that Djokovic is a cold-hearted - yet annoyingly likeable - winning machine who feels no weight of pressure or emotion. 

Competition still strong

So the latest showdown between the two was beautifully refreshing. Really, the Serbian should have brushed aside Federer again; he was, until their match, simply unstoppable in China and his opponent was playing his first tournament of the Asian swing to give his weary legs a break. 

The former world no.1's win proved that Djokovic cannot runaway from the field just yet. Nobody likes it when the winner is a certainty. And by the time Nadal is completely clear from injury again, hopefully the competition will be stronger than ever. Federer is keeping the bed warm. 

Look at the three's head-to-head records with each other, and they couldn't be closer. Federer leads Djokovic 18-17, Nadal leads Djokovic 23-19, the only one-sided contest is Nadal's 23-10 over Federer.

Close rivalries like these are what makes tennis so amazing to watch at the moment, and long may it continue. 

Novak Djokovic
Roger Federer

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