Behind the ‘raw’ photo of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal that captures their enduring friendship in all its sweaty glory, there may lurk a much more sinister tale about the two men.
Federer and Nadal got into it early. It was the start of the 2007 U.S. Open, and the two were competing in the men’s draw, the event where they would meet for the first time. Federer, who had not won a tournament in his 22-year career, was up against Andy Roddick, a young American who had won six titles, the most recent in 2004 and 2005.
But Federer had other priorities. The two battled on, with Federer emerging victorious, 6-1, 6-1. While the two engaged in a battle of words, Federer told the media that Nadal was “a pig, a pig, a pig.”
A few months later, Federer and Nadal became the world No. 1. To the media, they said it was because their friendship had “fractured” following the incident at the 2007 U.S. Open.
Federer said that he and Nadal “didn’t really care about the media,” but their friendship was “really broken.” Nadal was “sick of being followed around by everyone.” He thought “no one really respected” Federer, while Federer felt that Nadal was “racing” him.
To the tennis media, Federer and Nadal were the most talked-about men in a decade.
Now, at the Australian Open, Federer and Nadal are making noise.
They play opposite each other in the final, and on Sunday, they are both looking to defend their titles at Melbourne Park. When they meet Sunday, the crowd, which is usually a loud, frenzied crowd, will be silent.
When I was 16 years old, I played tennis against Nadal. There is a photo of me and him in the