Rafael Nadal on Monday revealed a unique memento he had asked for from Roger Federer after one of their epic battles during the early stages of their career. Nadal's big revelation came few days after Federer bid adieu to tennis at the 2022 Laver Cup following his final match which was a doubles alongside the Spaniard. Federer and Nadal were both in tears after the match following which the Swiss legend gave an emotional farewell speech.
Nadal and Federer have played each other 40 times on ATP tour over the last two decades which both considering the other their "greatest rivals". But the one Nadal refers to here dates back to 2007, at the Hamburg Masters. Nadal had headed into the match on the back of an incredible winning streak of 81 matches on clay. The streak had started in 2005 at the Monte Carlos Masters before the Spaniard had won his first ever Grand Slam trophy at the Roland Garros that year. The winning run included 13 consecutive clay-court titles, including the two French Opens. But it was Federer who broke the streak, coming back from a set down to win, 2-6 6-2 6-0.
Speaking to Spanish radio station COPE, Nadal recalled that he had asked for Federer's shirt in a bid to remember his incredible winning run and that it was the Swiss who had ended it.
"The main thing I have in mind is how it was after the match. Winning 81 matches in a row on clay was a record that was very important to me. He beat me, we got back to the dressing room. I came back a little later and before I went to the press conference I saw that he was in the shower. I asked him, 'Can you give me the shirt you beat me in?' I kept it as a reminder," he said.
Although the win might have given Federer the much-needed confidence and boost ahead of the French Open, the Spaniard had avenged his defeat in style in the final, beating the Swiss 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. And then a year later, he returned to Hamburg to reclaim the trophy by beating Federer, again, 7-5, 6-7(3-7), 6-3.
Published by HT Digital Content Services with permission from Hindustan Times.
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