Roger Federer on young Rafael Nadal: ‘We are yet to form rivalry’


On March 10, 2006, two-time defending champion Indian Wells champion Roger Federer met the media ahead of the season’s first Masters 1000 event. It was Roger’s first event since the Dubai loss to Rafael Nadal, praising the young Spaniard and saying he brings something else to the game. Federer and Nadal met four times since Miami 2004, with the Spaniard winning three encounters. However, Roger did not call it a rivalry, mentioning other dangerous rivals and waiting to see how things would develop. Rafa took down Roger in their first duel in Miami 2004, defeating world no. 1 in straight sets at 17! Federer bounced back in the final a year later, coming from the verge of defeat and prevailing in a five-setter to lift the trophy. Nadal was back on the winning way at Roland Garros, beating Federer in the semi-final and extending his run to 3-1 in Dubai 2006.

Roger Federer spoke about his young rival Rafael Nadal in Indian Wells 2006.

“I think it’s hard to keep it up and play aggressively throughout the match as I did against Nadal in Dubai. He won the crucial points in the end, which was a pity, but I was still pleased with how I played. Nadal is a good player, simple as that; I enjoy the challenge with him. He is a terrific scrambler who brings something else to the game, being a great left-hander, as we do not have many of those. I consider that a tough thing to do, to play against a good lefty; the more matches I play against him, it will be more comfortable for both of us to know. We are more predictable by now than the first time we played in Miami a couple of years ago. I enjoy playing with him. He moves very well for his height, there is no question, and he is strong in his legs.

Nadal gets many balls back, with a great forehand and spin. He reaches the court’s dimension very well and is all-around, too, so he has many strengths in the game. I have played only four times against Nadal, but we have been No. 1 and No. 2 for a bit now; I guess we will have to see how it progresses. I always said there are more players than just Nadal, and I still believe that; the other rivals will play well, too, in Indian Wells. We will see if Nadal can back it up at Roland Garros, at the clay-court season and everything. Still, I do not think we can call it yet a rivalry; there are just too many other great players around,” Roger Federer said.

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