Greatest rivalry in tennis history

Greatest rivalry

  • Laver-Rosewall

    Votes: 3 2.8%
  • Borg-McEnroe

    Votes: 8 7.3%
  • Lendl-McEnroe

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Sampras-Agassi

    Votes: 6 5.5%
  • Federer-Nadal

    Votes: 44 40.4%
  • Federer-Djokovic

    Votes: 7 6.4%
  • Nadal-Djokovic

    Votes: 34 31.2%
  • other

    Votes: 7 6.4%

  • Total voters
    109

Swingmaster

Rookie
Interesting... Can I see raw data about subject...
You know there’s no raw data. Seems about right though. There are still some dudes who depend on their yearly clay points to hang around on tour, but not too many, and there’s probably not a single grass concentrator.
 

Yugram

Legend
Maybe in the past, but since 2014 not so much.
Who cares about since 2014? We’re talking about a rivalry, not an isolated series of matches. And in the last 2 years Nadal vs Djokovic is still the biggest thing on the scene, even if it’s now more about achievement race rather than actual H2H.
 

Villain

Rookie
I’m biased as a Nole fan but I vote Novak vs Rafa. Most played rivalry in the Open Era. Age difference of only one year. More competitive. Fed vs Rafa is great and of course has had some awesome matches, but Novak vs Rafa is just better. Let’s go Nole!
 

ollinger

G.O.A.T.
Eddie Dibbs and Harold Solomon. Though Dibbs won 75 percent of their matches, these were epic wars during which one could go out and do some shopping, come home, and they'd still be battling in their tests of will and endurance. Both had 22 career titles and their career earnings were within about 200,000 dollars of each other. The Bagel Twins.
 

MeatTornado

Legend
Who cares about since 2014? We’re talking about a rivalry, not an isolated series of matches. And in the last 2 years Nadal vs Djokovic is still the biggest thing on the scene, even if it’s now more about achievement race rather than actual H2H.
In that case Fred-Ned is still the biggest rivalry.
 

beard

Hall of Fame
What makes it "better"? Just because the h2h is closer? The results were one-way traffic in different time periods and 35/55 of their matches have been in straight sets.
One-way traffic? You defend Fedal "rivalry" using this term?

Come on... Fedal was interesting because after weakest era ever new player emerged and started bashing old master, first on clay and after that on all surfaces... Media hype was enormous... Off course it was Great to watch after slug period of tennis, but later we have better rivalries...
 

MeatTornado

Legend
What makes it "better"? Just because the h2h is closer? The results were one-way traffic in different time periods and 35/55 of their matches have been in straight sets.
Pretty much, yeah. A more even match-up is a better rivalry in my mind. It's that simple. Although ideally they would have the contrast in styles that Fedal has (and like Borg-McEnroe or Pete-Andre).

Federer-Nadal is a "greater" rivalry though because of how it captured the sports world. Nothing in the Djokodal rivalry ever felt quite like 2006-2008 Fedal did. And long since then they're still the biggest draw in tennis.
 
Pretty much, yeah. A more even match-up is a better rivalry in my mind. It's that simple. Although ideally they would have the contrast in styles that Fedal has (and like Borg-McEnroe or Pete-Andre).

Federer-Nadal is a "greater" rivalry though because of how it captured the sports world. Nothing in the Djokodal rivalry ever felt quite like 2006-2008 Fedal did. And long since then they're still the biggest draw in tennis.
Was/is it really even though? Before 2011 it went RAFA's way, 2011-2012 Novak's, (2012-)2013 RAFA again, 2014-onward Novak again
 
Very hard to say.

For the big 3 arguments it is close as well.

Fed vs Rafa: most captivating rivalry

Djoker vs Rafa: closest rivalry

Djoker vs Fed: most hated rivals
 

Third Serve

Legend
Fedal is much more fun to watch. Excellent contrast of styles (though not as good as Sampras-Agassi in this regard) and the matchup dynamics made many of the matches that shouldn’t have been close closer.

Their best matches are:

Rome 2006
Wimbledon 2007
Wimbledon 2008
AO 2009
AO 2017
 

octogon

Hall of Fame
In terms of the rivalry that has most captured the imagination of the masses, it's Federer/ Nadal.

In terms of the actual consistently highest competitive level produced between two evenly matched tennis players, it's Djokovic/Nadal.

Interesting that the common denominator in the greatest rivalries is Nadal.
 
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octogon

Hall of Fame
And that’s what the Djokovic-Nadal rivalry has been. Seven straight matches won on two different occasions? Really?
Yet...yet...it's still 9-6 to Rafa at Grand Slams. It's a fascinating rivalry. Nadal gives up a lot of the less important matches, but still managed to dominate Djokovic in the majority of the biggest matches. And the Olympics, which Djokovic desperately craved.

Ultimately, it's winning the big ones that matter. Against each other, Rafa has done that better than Novak.
 

BeatlesFan

Talk Tennis Guru
It is probably Borg McEnroe since tennis was a superstar thing back then. We are talking Lady Diana fandom. But that is long time ago now and belongs to former pro player section.
The OP asked for the greatest rivalry in tennis history. History encompasses "a long time ago.," which should really go without saying. ;) Using this logic, Laver-Rosewall (an incredible rivalry) shouldn't be in the mix because they played decades ago, which doesn't make sense.

You're certainly correct that the Borg-McEnroe rivalry was hugely more famous and celebrated than any rivalry of today. When the only tennis televised then were the semis and finals of majors and a few events, both of them transcended the sport when they played.
 

octogon

Hall of Fame
The OP asked for the greatest rivalry in tennis history. History encompasses "a long time ago.," which should really go without saying. ;) Using this logic, Laver-Rosewall (an incredible rivalry) shouldn't be in the mix because they played decades ago, which doesn't make sense.

You're certainly correct that the Borg-McEnroe rivalry was hugely more famous and celebrated than any rivalry of today. When the only tennis televised then were the semis and finals of majors and a few events, both of them transcended the sport when they played.

Federer/Nadal is bigger than Borg/McEnroe. Tennis is even more of a global sport today, and penetrates far more countries today than in the heyday of Borg/McEnroe (Federer and Nadal have far more pull in say China, than players from previous generations). Maybe Borg/McEnroe feels bigger to some because it may have been more impactful in western media countries like UK and USA.

Nadal/Federer most definitely transcended tennis. Sports fans who didn't care about tennis in any other context, who stop to watch a Federer/Nadal grand slam match.In this day and age, where tennis competes with so many other things for attention, it cannot be underestimated how much the Federer/Nadal rivalry has carried the sport of tennis.
 
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NoleFam

G.O.A.T.
Federer/Nadal is bigger than Borg/McEnroe. Tennis is even more of a global sport today, and penetrates far more countries today than in the heyday of Borg/McEnroe (Federer and Nadal have far more pull in say China, than players from previous generations). Maybe Borg/McEnroe feels bigger to soms because it may have been more impactful in western media countries like UK and USA.

Nadal/Federer most definitely transcended tennis. Sports fans who didn't care about tennis in any other context, who stop to watch a Federer/Nadal grand slam match.In this day and age, where tennis competes with so many other things for attention, it cannot be underestimated how much the Federer/Nadal rivalry has carried the sport of tennis.
Um no. Federer and Nadal have not transcended tennis in way more impactful than Borg and McEnroe. None of the big 3 have. The popularity of the sport during their era was off the charts and so were the ratings. They carried the sport? Do they pull the highest ratings over everyone else wherever they play? Not even close. Let's see if 40 years from now people still care so much about Federer and Nadal to make a movie about them like Borg and McEnroe.
 

dr325i

Legend
Nadal - Federer was too one sided, and still is
Djokovic - Nadal is as close as it gets for 50+ meetings, and also most meetings of all on the list.
 

octogon

Hall of Fame
Um no. Federer and Nadal have not transcended tennis in way more impactful than Borg and McEnroe. None of the big 3 have. The popularity of the sport during their era was off the charts and so were the ratings. They carried the sport? Do they pull the highest ratings over everyone else wherever they play? Not even close. Let's see if 40 years from now people still care so much about Federer and Nadal to make a movie about them like Borg and McEnroe.
The 2017 Australian Open final between Nadal and Federer drew massive ratings around the world. On ESPN in America, it did over 80% better in viewing numbers than the previous year's Australian Open final between Djokovic and Murray. It was the most watched ESPN telecast in that time slot in the history of the channel. That match broke viewing records because people thought it might be the last time Federer and Nadal played in a match of that magnitude.


The Borg/McEnroe was a cheap, low budget movie funded independently in Europe that nobody watched. Let's not get carried away like it was some big budget Hollywood production that had serious backing behind it. I can easily imagine one day Federer/Nadal movie being made with a real budget behind it.
 

NoleFam

G.O.A.T.
The 2017 Australian Open final between Nadal and Federer drew massive ratings around the world. On ESPN in America, it did over 80% better in viewing numbers than the previous year's Australian Open final between Djokovic and Murray. It was the most watched ESPN telecast in that time slot in the history of the channel. That match broke viewing records because people thought it might be the last time Federer and Nadal played in a match of that magnitude.


The Borg/McEnroe was a cheap, low budget movie funded independently in Europe that nobody watched. Let's not get carried away like it was some big budget Hollywood production that had serious backing behind it. I can easily imagine one day Federer/Nadal movie being made with a real budget behind it.
They were good ratings but if you want to see massive then go look at the ratings in Borg and McEnroe's era. They are not close to that and you seem to think they carried the sport but they had the floor the rest of 2017, and the Slams final ratings were not good. They were among the lowest ever.

Yea but somebody cared enough to fund and produce a movie about them. 40 years from now I would be shocked if people still cared enough about Fedal to do the same.
 
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maratha_warrior

Hall of Fame
Nadal & Djokovic are of same age , Federer is 5-6 years elder .

Nadal and Djokovic played 55 matches
Federer and Djokovic played 50 matches
Nadal and Federer played 40 matches .

That's means , Djokodal have played 15 times more than Fedal and its clear that they will play 3-5 more years . So , Djokodal might end up playing around 25 more matches than Fedal .

Djokovic Vs Nadal H2H 29 -26
Djokovic Vs Federer H2H 27-23
Nadal. Vs Federer 24-16

Currently , Djokodal & Fedovic are better rivalries than Fedal .
If Djokodal plays 4-5 more years , they will end up as the most prolific and biggest rivalry .
 

junior74

G.O.A.T.
Is it greatest because of most matches, best quality or most "epic" encounters?

I personally think Djokovic-Federer is a superb match-up, although Djokovic had the pleasure of meeting Federer in a lot of finals at an advanced age, when the overall level of the tour declined so they met more often, which to me has made the rivalry less epic. The quality and differences in playing style is really good to watch, though.

Federer-Nadal and Borg-McEnroe are perhaps the two most "famous" rivalries. Probably because of epic slam finals.
 
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