Roger vs. Nole – The Rivalry

Indian Wells Final

[2] Novak Djokovic vs. [7] Roger Federer

Another instance of this marvellous rivalry takes stage in the Californian desert. Overshadowed by the other two great rivalries Rafa-Roger and Rafa-Novak, nicknamed as ‘Fedkovic’ has never failed to produce breathtaking stuff from both the players. Be it the tweener from Roger to get to match point in US Open’09 or Novak’s remarkable comeback two years later on the same stage.

Roger Federer between the legs shot vs Djokovic

Novak Djokovic Vs Roger Federer Match Point US Open 2011

These two fan favorites always thrilled the crowd where ever they played. Federer leads the H2H 17-15 and 13-12 on hard courts. We look at the top five matches in this famous rivalry on the occasion of their 33rd meeting on the ATP World Tour.

1. 2012 Wimbledon semifinal, Federer d. Djokovic 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-3

It was a match that would leave Federer a match shy of return to the no.1 ranking and a record seventh SW19 title to tie with his idol Pete Sampras. It also marked their first ever meeting on Grass in a match that had all the importance. Then world no.1 Djokovic was the defending champion and attempting to reach fifth straight major final. Federer was dominant on serve in the opening set and clinched it 6-3 quickly with one service break. Djokovic regrouped in the second set to bag it 6-3 and evened the contest. Third set was much closer affair with both players engaging in gruel rallies.

Djokovic had break points on Federer’s serve at 4-4, but couldn’t convert any of them. In the very next game found himself in trouble facing the set point that Federer sealed with aggressive approach to the net with an overhead. Crowd was brought onto it’s feet as Roger roared to win the third set 6-4 to take a 2-1 sets lead. He continued the momentum in the fourth set gaining an early break to close the doors for the defending champion. After wrapping the fourth set 6-3, he made history to reach the Wimbledon final for eighth time. In the final he went on to record an emphatic victory over emotional British man Murray to win the record seventh title and returned to world no.1 ranking.

2. 2011 US Open semifinal, Djokovic d. Federer 4-6 6-7 6-3 6-2 7-5

Djokovic was almost unstoppable in 2011, his only loss in the majors was to Federer at the French Open in a memorable four setter. It was time for revenge for the world no.1. But Federer started the match better to take a commanding 2-0 sets lead. Things didn’t go well for the then world no.3 in the next two sets as Djokovic quickly pushed the match to fifth set for the second year running. Federer took the control in fifth set and served for the match at 5-3, had two match points at 40-15. With the crowd chanting ‘Roger’ ‘Roger’, Novak came up with stunning shots to break the serve to make it 4-5 and turned the heat on Arthur Ashe stadium. He went to win the next three games and completed one of the greatest comeback victories ever. It was just the second time Federer lost in a major after taking the opening two sets. Djokovic went on to defeat Nadal in the final to capture his first ever US Open and third major of the season.

3. 2011 Roland Garros semifinal, Federer d. Djokovic 7-6 6-3 3-6 7-6

Federer stopped Djokovic’s incredible 41-match winning streak in this semifinal match in Paris that ended late night at 9.37 local time. Both players produced exquisite tennis in the opening set that Federer won in the tiebreak. He gained a crucial break in the second set to win it 6-3 to take 2-0 sets lead. Djokovic ran away with the third set 6-3 and was points away to send the match to a decider as he served for the fourth set at 5-4. Federer forced his way back in to the set and pushed it to the tiebreak. Eventually prevailing in four sets to reach his fifth Roland Garros final. He suffered fourth loss to Nadal in the finals.

4. 2011 Australian Open semifinal, Djokovic d. Federer 7-6 7-5 6-4

A high quality entertainment was promised as these two players locked horns on Rod Laver Arena as both players were in good form coming into the match. There was a little to separate both in the opening set and Djokovic edged in the tiebreak. Federer responded strongly in the second set and opened up a 5-2 lead. But Djokovic took next five games capitalizing on some uncharacteristic errors from his opponent to take 2-0 sets lead. Riding on the momentum shift, Djokovic took early lead in the third set. Though Federer clawed his way back, it was not to last long as Djokovic closed out the set and the match. It was the first time Federer lost in straight sets in a major since the 2008 Roland Garros final. Djokovic went on to win his second Australian Open and set the stone for a fantastic year to follow.

5. 2010 US Open semifinal, Djokovic d. Federer 5-7 6-1 5-7 6-2 7-5

After suffering losses to Federer in the last three years in New York, Djokovic was looking to turn the tables against the then world no.2 who was attempting to reach a record seventh straight US Open final. After Federer edged in the opener, Djokovic rocked the second set 6-1 to level the match. The next two sets went the same way as the first two. In the final set, Djokovic came under pressure while serving to stay in the match at 4-5. At 15-40, he faced two match points though he saved both by some aggressive tennis. He went on to put curtains on the hopes of Federer reaching another final in Flushing Meadows as he won the next two games to reach his second final in New York. Djokovic lost the final to the world no.1 Nadal.

-Harish Narahari [Harish Narahari is a Sports Analyst for the Tennis Galaxy at Sportz Cosmos He tweets here]

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6 thoughts on “Roger vs. Nole – The Rivalry

  1. Thank you very much Harish. Yes, the Fedkovic rivalry has given much pleasure and enjoyment over the years as you have reminded us in your excellent reviews and videos above of their main contests. It’s always a delight to go down memory lane when it involves these 2 mighty warriors.

  2. Interesting comment Roger Laver…would you not include Nadal in the greatest shotmakers? I really value your opinion.

    • Nadal is more of a point constructor. He manufactures his points with many high percentage shots and well placed serves that put him in a winning position. He is the absolute best at that (look at first serve percentage, points won on first serve, percent of net points won, he is always at the top spots in these categories). But what Roger Laver means is that Fed and Nole can make amazing 1 shot knockout points almost when ever they want. They (especially Federer) go for bigger shots, usually with very high success (Nole with a bit better success). In that regard, yes, Federer and Nole are the best shot makers and pure hard court players (especially fast courts and indoors) of this era. Think of Nole as a blend of Federer shot making and Nadal’s defense. That is why I believe that most of the time (and this is only my opinion here), when all players play to their absolute best level, Nole is the one player who always has the matches on his racket. Because he has it all.

      • Thank you Carlos and Roger Laver for your informative and thought out comments and I have to agree. However, maybe now that Federer is using the latest technolgy with his new racquet and the confidence he seems to be building with Edberg by his side as mentor and coach and a healthier and fitter player than 2013 we may see him again up there with the # 1 and 2. Who will be holding the winning trophy above their head this coming Sunday? It won’t be Murray now.

  3. Pretty much summed up what I meant Carlos!

    Nadal has definitely had his shot-making moments – specially this newer aggressive version of Rafa we’ve been seeing since his comeback, but Feder/Nole are the aggressors…. over the entire career.

    Rafa and Murray are counterpunchers and Rafa is ofcourse the greatest defender IMO

    One thing I would differ with is the last part – Nole controls matches on the relatively slower courts, but on Faster courts, Fed is the guy with match on his racquet…. I would say, up until grass courts = Nole time and after that Fed….

    Even in Nole’s banner years Fed put down some big time beatings on Nole in Cincinnati 2012 and WTF 2010 [just before Nole unleashed himself….]

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