The best rivalry in sports?

By in Sports & Health

KYLE IRELAND
Sports Writer

Lacking the gun toting superstars of the NFL and eccentric rapper-athletes of the NBA, the unsuspecting sport of tennis has emerged with it’s own super athletes.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, for years the two top-ranked tennis players on the planet, have been building a rivalry that matches the intensity of a Habs-Leafs playoff series. If you can get past the excessive grunting that accompanies the 200 kilometre per hour serves, one will find a demonstration of extreme talent and professionalism.

The rivalry between Federer and Nadal has revitalized tennis and their meeting in the 2008 Wimbledon Final, clocking in at four hours and 48 minutes, is regarded as the greatest match in tennis history. Nadal triumphed with a spectacular win in five sets. (video posted below)

Switzerland native Roger Federer is already the all-time leader in career prize money, raking in a handsome $50 million U.S. while dominating the sport over the last 10 years. The 28-year old has already achieved 61 Association of Tennis Professionals tournament championships, 15 Grand Slam wins, as well as endorsements for Nike, Rolex, Mercedes and Gillette.

Federer is to tennis what Tiger is to golf and is considered by many analysts to be the best tennis player of all time. Beginning in 2004, Federer was ranked World No. 1 by the ATP a record 237 weeks in a row and has a career record of 664-156. Nadal has been the only player over the last five years who has held a winning record over Federer and has managed to do so by a comfortable margin, boasting a 13-7 record.

Nadal was born in Spain and turned professional at the age of 15, quickly ascending professional tennis rankings. The 23-year-old Spaniard has astonishingly collected a cool $25 million U.S. in career prize money throughout his rise as a tennis phenomenon.

In 2004 Nadal faced the World No. 1 Federer and the 18-year-old Nadal won in straight sets, instigating a long standing rivalry between the two players.  The younger Nadal has held his own in head to head play against Federer and has built a career around being able to beat Federer when no one else can. 

If not for an early exit in the semi-finals of the U.S. Open by Nadal in New York this weekend, the two would have met for a record eighth time in a Grand Slam final, where Nadal holds a 5-2 advantage over Federer. 

Earlier in the tournament a crazed fan got past security and laid a kiss on Nadal after he won a match and was changing shirts. An unfazed Nadal told CBS reporters, “For me it wasn’t a problem. The guy was really nice. He said ”˜I love you’ and he kissed me.” 

The fan faces a $5,000 fine, a maximum one year in prison if convicted, newfound respect from peers and more than likely a wicked hangover.

Both Federer and Nadal are going to be around for years to come and no doubt there will be a few more legendary matches to go down between the two. Next time you find yourself debating between watching Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reruns or televised tennis, give the Banks family a break and you might witness some real entertainment in the form of the highest calibre tennis ever to be played.