Reem With A View

"Names and attributes must be accommodated to the essence of things, and not the essence to the names, since things come first and names afterwards." – Galileo

Why Nadal’s 5-2 head-to-head record against Federer is misleading!

A lot of arm-chair Nadal fanboys keep touting the stat that in Grand Slam Finals, Nadal has a 5-2 head to head record against Federer and hence Federer hasn’t “dominated” Rafa.

But these guys completely miss the point (which all tennis legends like Sampras, Agassi, Laver, Mcenroe and Becker accept):

Nadal didn’t even make ONE  U.S. Open final during Federer’s reign!!!

ZILCH. ZERO. Not ONE SINGLE final in the 5 YEARS Federer won.

Why should we bother about Federer losing to Nadal, if we don’t scrutinize Nadal losing to weak players in US and Aus Opens? In fact, Nadal lost to way lower ranked Soderling in 4th round of his FAVOURITE surface after winning 4 times.  Federer has lost ONLY in the finals of Wimbledon since his 1st win in 2003  and NEVER lost US Open after he first won it in 2004.

Nadal is extremely inconsistent in Hardcourt Slams. (Update: 27/Jan/2011,  Nadal has crashed out of Aus Open in Quarters! )

Considering Roger’s awesome hardcourt Slam record, the head to head would easily be in FEDERER’s favour  of at least 8-5 (4 US Open wins and 2 Aus Open wins in Federer’s prime).


By  refusing to acknowledge Nadal’s miserable hard court slam record, and refusing to see Federer’s total dominance in US Open, the head -to-head stat supporters are  PUNISHING Federer for his CONSISTENCY in reaching FINALS of ALL slams, and REWARDING Nadal for his failure in U.S.Open and Aus Open.

Absolutely ridiculous. Basically Nadal fanboys have been devastated by Federer’s French open win and the fact that he has been declared the Greatest Tennis Player of ALL Time by none other than Sampras, Agassi, Lendl, McEnroe etc etc.

The right way to check slam dominance, is to take up ALL THE SLAMS in which BOTH Nadal and Federer participated and check the winning percentage you find that Nadal is way inferior to Federer than Agassi was to Sampras (and not otherwise as Nadal fanboys love to believe).  When you add the 2 Wimbledons, 4 Aus Opens and 5 US Opens that Nadal and Federer haven’t met in, but Federer won 2 , 3  & 5 of those Slams respectively, you get the TRUE picture.

Over time, Federer will dominate sports history books, while Nadal may remain a footnote (unless he starts winning 10more slams…)

Also read: how-nadal-maintains-his-head-to-head-record-against-federer

To quote a fellow tennis enthusiast & blogger (see comments section below):  “…Roger leads (Rafa) 29-20 and 35-23, in the Same Tournament Entered and the Titles in Total Tournaments Available, respectively. On top of that Roger leads 12-6 in the Same 21 Grand Slams Played.”

This is an awesome stat and once and for all makes the lousy “Roger didn’t dominate Rafa” argument completely untenable. Read the full analysis here which debunks the popular myth that Roger never dominated Rafa. A better and more statistically valid data set to measure GOAT and true Grand Slam head to head is the above mentioned  “Same 21 Grand Slams Played”.  Click here to read more:  There’s More to Nadal and Federer Than Head-To-Head Meetings

Update: May 30, 2010

To put all debates to rest, Nadal himself now admits Roger Federer is better with simple, cold logic in an interview. Read the article here : Roger’s still better, says Nadal

“If someone says I’m better than Roger, I think they know nothing about tennis,” Nadal said…

“You see his titles, you see my titles. There’s no comparison.
It’s difficult to compare Roger with me right now. He has 16 Grand Slams, I have six. Roger’s records might be impossible to beat.”

Despite Federer’s more tightly-packed trophy cabinet, Nadal has a 14-7 head-to-head record against his rival and has won six of their last seven encounters.

The 24-year-old Mallorca man, however, believes that is indicative of nothing more than the Spaniard’s famed ability on clay. “I am number two in the world for five years now,” he said.
“I think I am a good number two. Sure, I can beat him, number two can beat number one. I can beat him, but I beat him a lot of times on clay. I’ve played with him more times on clay than on the rest of the surfaces.”

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20 Responses

  1. Tennis Freak says:

    Pete Sampras has recently said that, “Tough question to answer. I do understand the argument as being the best ever you have to be the best of your generation and Federer has come up short against Nadal” .
    At times, the H2H interpretation has been analogous to a conspiracy theory. For example, Federer critics go as far as to suggest, “You can make a clear case Federer is not even the best of this time” (Raymond Lee, Tennis Week 7/14/2009).

    Don’t worry. Here is an answer to these critics.

    Yes, Rafa leads 13-7, but Roger leads 29-20 and 35-23, in the Same Tournament Entered and the Titles in Total Tournaments Available, respectively. On top of that Roger leads 12-6 in the Same 21 Grand Slams Played.

    See the article below for the most comprehensive evaluation and flaw in the interpretation of Federer-Nadal head-to-head matchup.
    This is the most detailed and satisfactory article ever written to counter Federer’s critics.

  2. Tennis Freak says:

    The article is in Bleacher Report, with the title
    Face the Facts: There’s More to Nadal and Federer Than Head-To-Head Meetings

    Copy and paste the URL.

    Or, you can Google up the title if the link does not work or does not show up

  3. Andrej says:

    Hugely biased article, you just assume fed would have beaten nadal in usopen finals. I bet you assumed he was gonna beat him in the aopen final, also, you didn’t think he would ever lose to nadal in wimby. Who is the GOAT is a very stupid question, that’s the inly reason I dislike fed, because he always says he wants to be the GOAT. Nadal is better in H2H, while fed is better in GS’s, simple as that.
    And I would bet my house on it, this is the way is gonna be forever. Nadal won’t surpass fed in GS’s because he’ll burn out, but fed will never have a winning H2H against nadal, because nadal is he’s deamon.

  4. tom says:

    Face it, Federer is rubbish. Nadal owns him.

  5. pat says:

    Both great players in my opinion. Federer peaked at a later age where as nadal won his first slam at 18 years. So they have been at the top of the game for about the same amount of time. Nadal will be considered the greatest clay court player of all time but Federer will always be the greatest all rounder ever due to his consistancy. I do feel the head to head is misleading as above as fed most lkely would have won those finals regardless. Bun on the other hand rafa’s game does not suit federer. Nadal will get close to rogers record and maybe equal it but the way fed plays he will be considered the greatest of all time. But both great players with totally different styles.

  6. Reem says:

    Well said Pat… I too agree that Fed is way more consistent than Rafa…

    The head to head is penalizing Fed for consistently coming to french finals while rewarding Rafa for losing early in US open/Aus Opens

  7. […] Nadal another French Open title and added to the imbalance of their rivalry record (though this article highlights some excellent reasons for the record looking worse than it is). And none of that […]

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  18. joseph says:

    Nice info there.
    Just to add on and breakdown a bit on H2H stats….that is to say if tennis were to be played just between the both of them:

    As of today: Head-to-head stats show – Nadal (20 wins) Vs Federer (10 wins)

    Breakdown of the Head to head stats between the 2 champs:
    Nadal (surface wins against Fed) – Clay 65%, Grass 5%, Hard 30% (of 20 wins)
    Federer (surface wins against Nad)- Clay 20%, Grass 20%, Hard 60% (of 10 wins)

    This shows Fed dominates Hard court against Nadal & Nadal dominating Clay.
    Grass also favoring Fed winning 2 of the 3 meetings which happens to be a Grandslam event, Wimbledon. That said, Nadal has shown improved hardcourt success against Fed; in the last 5 yrs nadal won 4 of the 7 hardcourt meetings. Also take note the only 2 Grandslam Hardcourt meeting between the 2 were taken by Nadal.(Aust open ’09 & ’12)
    On the other hand Fed has only won 2 non-grandslam clay events (’07 & ’09)against nadal.

    In conclusion, Nadal’s wins on his fav surface(clay) is at 65% while Fed on his fav surface(Hard) is at 60% this showing us that the both of them capitalize on their preferred surfaces. If any, nadal would stand to lose as out of the 4 Grandslam events, he would only have 1 grandslam per year on his fav surface while fed will have an advantage of 3 grandslams on his fav surfaces as both grass and hardcourt are his fav. Despite the odds, Nadal still managed to garner a 20 vs 10 win over Fed and out of this 20 to 10 wins, they are also fairly represented in grandslam stats as well as seen below.

    Grand slam meetings between the 2:
    Nadal: 5 Roland Garros(clay), 2 Aust Open(hard), 1 Wimb(grass)
    Federer: 2 wimb(grass)

    Interpretation: Surprisingly, Fed doesn’t perform well against Nadal on any surface when they meet in grandslams. A record of 2 vs 1 on grass is also well… pretty close. However, Fed has managed to win the last 2 world tour final event(hard) against Nadal. This is a consolation as it is considered a mini grandslam.

    Mediation: So obviously Nadal is a thorn in Fed’s flesh. In terms of overall grandslams under each’s belt, fed, who started 3 yrs earlier than nadal has more with 17 and nadal 12. But it remains anybody’s guess what the end result will be as we do not know how much longer each player can play. Also it is important to note that different players peak at diff time and diff ability to sustain their peak. we do not know if nadal had peaked or if he is on the way down or whether he will remain as competitive as Fed up to the 30′s. neither do we know if Fed will retire soon or if he takes much longer to fade away thus bagging a few more trophies. Both men are legends, they hold extraordinary records on their own(not against one another) and are my all time fav on the court. As of now, Fed is still the leader in terms of GS, $, ranking history and total titles. Similarly, Nadal has the better of Federer since they first met and is also the better of all top players who have met him over a few times.

    Thanks for reading and pardon my mistakes if any.

    • Reem says:

      Good point. But still Fed is way consistent in coming to French finals while Rafa has a poor US open record.

      Warm Regards, Reem

      Sent from my iPhone

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