Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer vs Novak Djokovic - Tennis' Epic Rivalries

Rafael Nadal's rivalries with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, in addition to the new wave of stars with Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas has revolutionised Tennis.

Rafael Nadal in a file photo. (Twitter: @AustralianOpen)

In Rafael Nadal’s times, the Tennis world has been elevated to a whole new different level. The likes of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, in addition to Rafael Nadal, have given Tennis fans plenty of cheer and excitement. The trio’s rivalry against each other is legendary. If one has to go for the starting point of the rivalry, it has to be the contests between Nadal and Federer. It then evolved into the Nadal and Djokovic encounter. All the other rivalries that he had have seen total dominance by the Spaniard. But, when it came to contests between Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic, it was simply sublime to watch.

Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer

If there was one contest that redefined rivalry and dominance, it was the clashes between Federer and Nadal. There was a clear trend in the dominance. Nadal would dominate on Clay while Federer dominated on other surfaces. But, slowly but surely, Nadal was in a league of his own as the years progressed. Nadal ensured Federer never won against him in Roland Garros. His only Australian and one Wimbledon title have come by beating Federer. Overall, he leads Federer 24-16 in 40 meetings. In Grand Slams, it is 10-4. 22 of Nadal’s wins against Federer has come on clay and outdoor hard courts. Federer, on the other hand, leads in grass and indoor hard courts. He has denied Nadal the chance to win the year-ending ATP Finals on a couple of occasions.

Matches PlayedMatches won by Rafael NadalMatches won by Roger Federer
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In this head-to-head contest, Rafael Nadal is clearly the dominant winner. Click here about Nadal vs Federer rivalry

Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic

If there is one rivalry that is gladiatorial, it is Nadal vs Djokovic. They have played with each other very frequently. Each time, the competitive quotient goes up a notch. The duo has met 58 times, which is the most by anybody in the history of Tennis. Djokovic has a 30-28 head-to-head winning ratio against Nadal. The Spaniard has once again held his own in clay courts, winning 19 out of the 26 matches. Djokovic, on the other hand, has won 20 out of the 27 matches on hard courts. In fact, Djokovic is the only player to have beaten Nadal twice in the French Open in the entire decade. When Djokovic won the French Open in 2021, he became the first player in the history of the Open Era to win all four Grand Slams twice.

Matches PlayedMatches won by Rafael NadalMatches won by Novak Djokovic
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In the Nadal vs Djokovic head-to-head contest, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are almost on an even keel. Click here about Nadal vs Djokovic head to head rivalry

Rafael Nadal vs Andy Murray

There was always the Nadal-Federer-Djokovic triumvirate dominating Tennis. But, at the same time, there was Andy Murray who was making a name for himself. He became a worthy contender and tried to make the dynamic trio into the Fab 4. But, against Nadal, he came up short on many occasions. Nadal always got the better of Murray in Grand Slams. But, the British player used to win the ATP titles against Nadal. He has beaten Nadal in three out of the four ATP title finals. But, overall, Nadal has a 17-7 head-to-head record against Murray.

Matches PlayedMatches won by Rafael NadalMatches won by Andy Murray
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The Nadal vs Murray Rivalry showed glimpses of brilliance from both. Here is more on the Nadal vs Murray Head-to-Head record

Rafael Nadal vs Stan Wawrinka

On paper, it seemed a very one-sided rivalry. Nadal won the first 12 encounters against Wawrinka and had a total of 17 wins in 20 contests against the Swiss player. But, Wawrinka has had his moments. He defeated Nadal in the final of the 2014 Australian Open for his only win there. Wawrinka, though, was denied the Grand Slam when he lost to Nadal in the final of the 2017 French Open. Nadal dominated the rivalry with a head-to-head of 17-3, but Wawrinka had his moments.

Matches PlayedMatches won by Rafael NadalMatches won by Stan Wawrinka
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On paper, the Nadal vs Wawrinka rivalry is very one-sided, but the Swiss had his moments. Here is a detailed look into the Nadal vs Wawrinka head-to-head record

Rafael Nadal vs Juan Martin del Potro

Rafael Nadal enjoyed a huge rivalry with Juan Martin del Potro. Out of the 17 encounters that he had with the Argentinian, Nadal won 11 but del Potro held his own with six wins. The most notable win for del Potro was the 2009 US Open. He not only defeated Nadal but beat Federer for his first US Open title. Thus, del Potro was the first player to beat both Nadal and Federer in one grand slam. They have had memorable encounters, which included a five-hour quarterfinal in 2018 Wimbledon that saw Nadal come out on top.

Matches PlayedMatches won by Rafael NadalMatches won by Juan Martin del Potro
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Nadal vs del Portro head-to-head was quiet intense but the Spaniard held the edge. Click here for the Nadal vs del Potro rivalry.

Rafael Nadal vs Dominic Thiem

In the new age of Tennis, apart from the dominant triumvirate, Rafael Nadal continues to hold a stranglehold over the younger generation. The rivalry between Dominic Thiem and Rafael Nadal is a classic case of a see-saw battle. When Nadal and Thiem met for the first eight times, it was Nadal who dominated with six wins out of two. But, in the last seven matches, Thiem has won four. Nadal twice denied Dominic Thiem the chance to win the French Open in consecutive years. The youngster has tried to ensure that he is on a level playing field with Nadal but the Spaniard has been on a different level altogether.

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Nadal may have dominated the opening exchanges. But, Dominic Thiem is coming back in a big way. Click here for the head-to-head stats of Nadal vs Thiem rivalry

Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas

On paper, it seems to be a very one-sided rivalry. But, Rafael Nadal has not had it easy against Stefanos Tstsipas. It was Tsitsipas who denied him the chance to win all four Grand Slams before Novak Djokovic when he defeated Nadal in the Australian Open quarterfinal in 2021. But, apart from the Australian Open loss, the Nadal vs Tsitsipas rivalry is heavily in favour of the Spaniard.

Matches PlayedWon by Rafael NadalStefanos Tsitsipas
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To see the dominance of Nadal against Tsitsipas, click here for their head-to-head record

Rafael Nadal vs Daniil Medvedev

Yet again, Rafael Nadal has dominated a youngster from this current generation. But, Daniil Medvedev seems to be making a habit of hurting legends big time. In 2021, Daniil Medvedev had denied Novak Djokovic the chance to become the first man since Rod Laver to win the Calendar Grand Slam. When he won the US Open, Djokovic’s quest was thwarted. But, Daniil Medvedev had hurt Rafael Nadal in a big way. In the 2020 year-ending ATP Finals, Nadal was beaten by Medvedev in the final. The year-ending ATP championship is something that Nadal has never won and Medvedev might have prevented more history being created. Apart from that, it has been sheer dominance by Nadal against Medvedev.

Matches PlayedWon by Rafael NadalDaniil Medvedev
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For all the dominance of the Nadal vs Medvedev rivalry, click here for their head-to-head rivalry.

Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov

The rivalry is the definition of one-sidedness. Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov has seen brilliance from the Spaniard unlike anyone else. In 15 matches, Nadal has won 14 while Dimitrov has won just once which was in 2016 Beijing. Seven matches on each end of the loss has seen Dimitrov fall way behind Rafael Nadal.

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To know more about the lop-sided Nadal vs Dimitrov rivalry, click here.

Rafael Nadal vs Fabio Fognini

Rafael Nadal and his rivalry with Fabio Fognini has seen periods of sheer dominance by the Spaniard but the Italian has held his nerve. Fognini caused a shock when he dumped Nadal out of the 2015 US Open in the fourth round. But, since then, Nadal has been gaining a big advantage in the rivalry. The proof is in the last nine games. Nadal has won eight and lost only once.

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Nadal vs Fognini is a symbol of the Spaniard’s dominance. Click here for their detailed head-to-head record and statistics.

Rafael Nadal vs Diego Schwartzman

Diego Schwartzman shocked the world when he defeated Rafael Nadal on clay in the 2020 Rome Masters, a tournament that the Spaniard had achieved great success. But, do not be fooled by that one win. In every instance, Nadal has overcome Schwartzman in dominating fashion. Nadal has been sublime in contests against the Argentinian on all surfaces. Apart from that one win in Rome, Schwartzman has never come close to beating Nadal

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To know more about this lop-sided rivalry of Nadal vs Schwartzman, click here for their detailed records

Rafael Nadal vs Kevin Anderson

It is really a no-contest. Kevin Anderson may have won against the likes of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic but he has never won against Rafael Nadal. In the five encounters that they have been in, Anderson has not even managed to come anywhere close to beating Nadal

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To know the dominance of Rafael Nadal vs Kevin Anderson, click here for their head-to-head records

Rafael Nadal vs Milos Raonic

For some time, Milos Raonic of Canada thought that he could be on an even keel with Rafael Nadal when he won two out of the three games against the Spaniard from 2015 to 2017. But, it proved to be a false dawn and Nadal stormed back into contention. The Spaniard has won a total of eight games and has put Raonic well behind.

Matches PlayedWon by Rafael NadalMilos Raonic
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To know the dominance of Nadal over Raonic, click here for the Nadal vs Raonic rivalry.

Rafael Nadal vs Tomas Berdych

At the start of this rivalry, Tomas Berdych had held an upper hand over Rafael Nadal with three wins out of four. Berdych seemed to have had Nadal’s number. But, Nadal then had an unbelievable winning streak against Berdych. He won 18 consecutive matches against the Czech player to turn the rivalry totally one-sided. Nadal won his second Wimbledon title by beating Berdych in the final.

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How did the Spaniard turn the rivalry around? Click here for the Nadal vs Berdych head-to-head rivalry here

Andre Agassi vs Rafael Nadal

Andre Agassi was one of the greats in the previous generation before Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic. His rivalries with Pete Sampras, Boris Becker, and Ivan Lendl were legendary. With age not on Agassi’s side, Nadal had an upper hand. He won the matches in Wimbledon and Toronto with ease. Thus, when Agassi retired, he never managed to beat Nadal. After he retired, Andre Agassi called Nadal the ‘Freak from Mallorca’.

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To know how Nadal got the better of the previous generation, click here for the Andre Agassi vs Rafael Nadal head-to-head rivalry.




WRITTEN BY
Sportslumo Desk

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