Tennis legends Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are easily the two most recognizable names around the globe. Federer has been the flagbearer of grace and skills on the court throughout his career. While the former world number one is best known as the epitome of poise, that was not always the case. Nadal, on the other hand, personifies brute strength and determination, but off the court, he has a gentle disposition.
In a career that spanned over two decades, Federer achieved what others could only dream of. He won 20 Grand Slams before retiring as one of the greatest players of all time. However, he was not always the most dignified on the court.
Federer grew up as a prodigy, but he was notorious for throwing tantrums and breaking his racket at the drop of a hat. One day, Federer saw a clip of himself playing against Marat Safin in a junior match and was immediately ashamed. The highlight reel showed the two players screaming and throwing their rackets around.
While Federer rectified the error in his ways, he did smash his racket twice as a professional. Roger was playing against Novak Djokovic at the 2009 Sony Ericsson Open. The Swiss went on to smash his racket after losing a point, and Djokovic bagged the match.
Nadal, like Federer, is one of the all-time greats of tennis. Not only is he a remarkable athlete, he is a gentleman as well. There were times when he came close to smashing his racket but did not ever follow through.
This ties back to the lesson his uncle, Toni Nadal, taught him as a young boy. “There are millions of kids in the world who would love a racket and don’t have one,” said Toni to six-year-old Rafa.
The sportsmanship debate between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal
Both Roger and Rafa were fierce competitors, but they were always very respectful on the court. The two legends inspired a generation of players, not just with their skills but with how to conduct themselves as well.
Federer has won the prestigious Stefan Edberg Award a whopping 13 times in his career. The players get to cast a vote for who they feel is the appropriate choice for the award. Roger left a mark with his sportsmanship and won it so many times.
Nadal has won the award five times in his career. The Spaniard has often been hailed as the most kind and fair on and off the court. The award only recognized Nadal’s integrity.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal set the standard for tennis and are still revered for their skills. Their contributions to the sport transcend the boundaries of the tennis court.