Swiss ace Roger Federer has suggested in jest that playing clay court matches against Rafael Nadal, who he considers as his toughest opponent, has left him “scarred”.
The duo has faced off 34 times, with the Spaniard coming out on top on 23 occasions. On clay, Federer has just won two of the pair’s 15 matches.
“My toughest opponent would have to be Rafa. The way he plays against me makes it extremely difficult for me. I’ve played way too many clay court matches against him — that kind of scarred me, I think. He’s beaten me in the final time and time again.
“I hope for him to come back strong again (from injury) because I think the world of him and his game. His fighting spirit and the professionalism that he brings to the game is quite extraordinary. I really enjoy watching him. Every match that I won against him almost counted double for me,” the Swiss ace said at the Hopman Cup New Year’s Eve party on Saturday in Perth.
17-time Grand Slam champion Federer himself has endured an injury-truncated year, which has seen him drop to No 16 in the world, seven spots below Nadal.
“It’s been different to spend a lot of time in one place. That was the biggest change for me in 2016. It was obviously beautiful to spend so much time with the kids, waking up in the morning and feeling energetic. Normally, I’m tired from practice or matches. It was quite an experience because I’ve never had to go through an injury like the way I had to this year. Now I understand a little bit about how hard it is to come back when guys are injured and how much patience it needs.
“It’s not easy and I admire the people who have done it before me so many times like Rafa. He always comes back and he has success. I hope it’s going to be the same for me,” Federer added.
Federer will be part of the Swiss team which will take on great Britain on Monday in their Hopman Cup opener.