For the last decade, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have been the two best tennis players in the world. They have faced each other more than any two top-ranked opponents (37 matches), with Nadal leading 23-14. In terms of Grand Slam titles, Nadal leads their rivalry 11-9. But who is the better player? It’s not as easy to answer as you might think!
Nadal has been in twice as many Grand Slam finals, and won seven more clay-court titles than Federer. However, Nadal’s only three hard court wins against Roger have come at the Australian Open (2008), Madrid 2008, and Monte Carlo 2010. On grass courts, Nadal leads their rivalry 11-0; on carpet.
One could make the argument that Nadal is the better player, but Federer’s dominance in the other three major surfaces and his consistent success at Wimbledon make him perhaps a truer great.
- Roger Federer has won 17 Grand Slam titles, second only to Pete Sampras’ record of 14; one more than Rafael Nadal (16)
- Federer is also ranked #11 on the all time list of ATP players, while Nadal is ranked #14
- Nadal trails Federer in the career head-tohead 24-23 and has never beaten his opponent in a Grand Slam final
In general, Roger dominates Rafa on grass courts (12 wins), clay courts (24) and hard courts (17). The one surface where Roger has no chance is clay.
- Nadal has won the French Open nine times, three more than Federer who is a seven time champion at Wimbledon.
In terms of all four major tournament victories, Roger leads Rafa 11 to 12 with Nadal on track to tie if not surpass his rival in total Grand Slam titles.
So who is objectively the better tennis player?
Nadal vs Federer: Who is the Better Tennis Player?
Every tennis fan has a favorite player. This year it’s been hard to decide between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, two of the greatest players in history. It seems like there are plenty of reasons to choose Nadal or for that matter Federer as your favorite player but if you really want to know who is objectively better, we need to compare their records side by side. We also have to consider how they fare against each other on different surfaces because no one can be great at every surface. So who’s better Rafa or Roger? We will never be able to say!