Federer will relish rivalry with Nadal
Federer rarely suffers defeat and Saturday's loss to Nadal in the final of the Dubai Open would have left a bitter taste in the Swiss world number one's mouth.india Updated: Mar 07, 2006 15:21 IST
Roger Federer rarely suffers defeat and Saturday's loss to Rafael Nadal in the final of the Dubai Open would have left a bitter taste in the Swiss world number one's mouth.
Nadal's 2-6 6-4 6-4 victory snapped Federer's Open-era record of 56 straight victories on hard courts and confirmed the Spaniard as a serious challenger to his world domination, as if we needed reminding.
The fact that the bandana-wearing Spaniard bounded around the court with no sign of the ankle injuries that threw a question mark over his year was good news for a sport crying out for a serious rivalry.
Even for Federer, despite a chastening third defeat in four meetings with Nadal, it could well prove a positive experience and spur him to even greater feats.
A trawl through the last 30 years of men's tennis throws up some memorable rivalries.
Ice cool Swede Bjorn Borg scaled the heights to take on the raging John McEnroe, while the American firebrand regularly crossed swords with compatriot Jimmy Connors on the world's biggest stages.
Czech Ivan Lendl raised the bar still further, becoming almost unbeatable at the US Open, while Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg contested three consecutive Wimbledon finals.
Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, as different as chalk and cheese on and off the court, played 34 times from 1989, culminating in Sampras's final bow when he beat his rival in the 2002 US Open final, his 14th Grand Slam title.
Although Agassi claimed his eighth major title at the Australian Open title in 2003, there is no doubt he missed having his old sparring partner in his sights.
Sampras also benefited. When Aggasi returned from his self-imposed break in the late 90s, he sent the Las Vegan a note expressing his relief that he was back.