Rafael Nadal recent shared a priceless message for Roger Federer ahead of his last 16 clash in the ongoing Wimbledon 2022 where he hailed the Swiss maestro as his “greatest rival”. Nadal and Federer share the most loved and watched rivalry in sports history with their best ever match being at the iconic Centre Court, 14 years back, where the Spaniard had won the five-set thriller. However, tennis legend Mats Wilander stands in complete contrary to the big Federer comment made by Nadal.
Nadal’s comment came exactly the day before Wimbledon celebrated 100 years of Centre Court for which Federer had returned to the All England Club, for the first time in 361 days. His last appearance at the venue was back in 2021, when he had lost his Wimbledon quarterfinal match against Hubert Hurkacz. It also remains his last ever on-court appearance following which he was sidelined with knee injury.
“I think I answered that question, but I’m going to say it again,” Nadal had said before his straight-set win against Botic van de Zandschulp in the round of 16. “Well, it’s a negative thing. But that’s the circle of life, you know. Time happens, and the watch, the clock never stops. This kind of stuff we need to get used to. But in a personal way, of course my personal relationship with Roger has been great, and he is probably my greatest rival.
“At the same time all the things that we shared together on court is something difficult to describe, the emotions, all the things. And of course I personally miss him in the tennis tour, and tennis of course misses him – tournaments, fans, everyone.
“I think Roger Federer is important in every single tournament. Not only Wimbledon. He is missed in every single event of tennis, without a doubt.”
Eurosport expert Wilander, reacting to Nadal’s words, admitted the reason behind his statement but opined that Novak Djokovic was a far more difficult opponent to him than the Swiss.
“He was the first one to really challenge Roger and they had this amazing rivalry for a few years,” said Wilander.
“Then of course Novak Djokovic came along, but Novak has probably been Nadal’s more difficult opponent
“And, talking from personal experience, a rivalry is not necessarily against the player that you played the most often in the biggest matches. It’s one that you enjoy playing against
“So I completely understand what he’s saying; it must be insanely fun to play against Roger Federer if you feel like you have a chance to win.”