Roger Federer explains why he ‘appreciates’ Rafael Nadal relationship amid 16-year rivalry
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Roger Federer returns to the court for the first time in 14 months at the Qatar Open this month after the 39-year-old’s long battle with injury. Rafael Nadal will not be in action in Doha though, meaning fans will have to wait to see the historic rivals face off once again.
Roger Federer has opened up on his appreciation and relationship with rival Rafael Nadal after 16 years of battling out at the top.
With 20 Grand Slam titles a piece, there is no mistaking that Federer and Nadal are arguably the two greatest tennis players to ever grace the court.
The pair have delivered some quite incredible matches over the years, who can forget the 2008 Wimbledon final five-set thriller?
But despite their long-lasting rivalry, Federer has revealed just how much he appreciates what Nadal, and even regards him as a close friend these days.
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“I saw him grow, right in front of my eyes,” Federer said in an interview with The Associated Press last year.
“I always feel like 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.”
Federer and Nadal first met in the semi-finals of the 2005 French Open, which Nadal went on to win in his first Grand Slam success.
And the Swiss claimed that his opponent lacked confidence at the top level initially.
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But Federer admitted that it didn’t take long before he found his distinct personality that millions have fallen in love with since.
“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 added.
“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.”
Federer is set to return to the court for the first time in 14 months at the Qatar Open with the winner of Jeremy Chardy vs Dan Evans awaiting him in the second round.
And ahead of his comeback, he said: “This is the moment where I could maybe thank all the people involved who made this possible. It’s been a long and hard road.
“I know I’m not at the finish line yet, but it’s good. I feel like I’m in a good place, I’ve been practising very well.
“Hope you guys also are going to tune in to watch it and I hope I see you again very soon. Take care everybody.”
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