The world of sport has conceived a variety of memorable rivalries throughout history and it would simply be an organised bore without them. I’m sure everyone can roll off their personal favourites (no doubt you are mentally indulging now)…boxing – Ali vs Frazier, tennis – Borg vs McEnroe, golf – Palmer vs Nicklaus, formula one – Prost vs Senna, tennis again – Navratilova vs Evert, athletics – Usain Bolt vs the clock, and the list continues.

The world's greatest?

But one of the most fascinating rivalries ever to grace the planet frustratingly doesn’t actually exist…Ali vs Tyson, two of the greatest boxers of all time. One remembered for his innovative skill, outstanding speed of foot and hand, and political endeavour. The other remembered for his brutal power, devastating hand speed and flawless accuracy. The perfect formula for a perfect rivalry and the world of sport is a lesser place not to have had the two bullish gladiators in the same era.

Enter stage right, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The two best tennis players on the planet and both playing an equal part in redefining the physics of tennis. Federer has bagged an unprecedented sixteen grand slam titles, surpassing the great Pete Sampras and cruising past almost every other record available. His gazelle-like footwork, effortless grace and ability to hit any shot in the book sets him apart from the field. His speed and athleticism are criminally underrated simply because the rest of his game is unequivocally perfect.

And then there is Rafael Nadal, the Yang to Federer’s Yin. Nadal, five years Federer’s junior won his ninth grand slam title in September, his third in a row in a glittering 2010. At this point it may be worth noting that at the same stage in Federer’s career he had won six grand slam titles. Nadal’s ground strokes posses the most brutal top spin the game has seen, he is the most destructive counter puncher and his court coverage almost encroaches on PG-15 violence.

Nadal is a raging bull blessed with magnificent artistry. Federer is an elegant matador blessed with the ruthless instincts of an assassin. Ali vs Tyson is a loss for the world of boxing, but Federer vs Nadal is a gain for the world of sport. Every sports fan out there must not take for granted that these two careers have cross-weaved one another, as there may not be many more times these legends do battle.

Federer vs Nadal, using racquets for gloves and arguably the greatest rivalry to top the best of the best.

Til next week,

Adrian Payne

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12 Responses to Unrivalled

  1. Jimmie Johnson says:

    Hulk Hogan v Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania 6, that rivalry was electric.

  2. Jack Morton says:

    Hogan v Warrior only fought once so I don’t think you can call that a rivalry! Plus Stone Cold vs The Rock was definitely more legendary. Also how could you not mentioned Pete Sampras v Andre Agassi? Do you not think they were bigger than Federer and Nadal?


  3. Jimmie Johnson says:

    Hogan v Warrior was a huge rivalry, they actually fought twice, once in 1998 which had an 8 year build up from there last match. Back to WM6, these 2 guys were at the absolute peek of there profession, the two biggest guys in the sport, in an era when wrestling was at the top.

    This match split families (me & my brother) it also split friendships at school, you were either Hogan or Warrior, you couldn’t be both.

    It was intense at the time and you mention Stone Cold v The Rock which I agree was a great rivalry but I don’t think it can compare to Hogan v Warrior as it was the first time that two fan favourites had faced each other, it was a first for wrestling. Truly epic.

  4. terry tucker says:

    Yeah im down with hulk v warrior me and my brother had a bust up to a rivalry is meant to bring out real emotion my brother nearly cried when hogan lost. Also how about the rivalry that saved wwe and that stone cold v mr mcmahon or go a step further and decide how big rivalry can get and go to wwf v wcw. That was a real a real life and death rivalry

  5. Charles Brown says:

    Excellent blog Adrian. I’m a keen reader but a first-time poster. Since coming across the blogs, I circulate them to a group of guys I work with and they fuel the lunchtime debates in the canteen!

    Agree wholeheartedly about Federer v Nadal – there aren’t many occassions when 2 players at the very top of their games meet, or continually meet as it is in this case.

    Another rivalry to add to your list must surely be Mourinho v Benitez – those 2 had some epic battles over their time in the Premier League.

    I’d be interested to know your thoughts on the following:

    The analysts/media/pundits all keep saying that this year’s Premier League is the most exciting of recent years as seemingly anyone can beat anyone.

    Why do you think this is? Is it because the traditional ‘big 4′ (bskyb trademark!) are weakening or because the rest of the league is catching up due to overseas investments etc.?

    The thing that surprises me most is that the same team can put 2 very different performances in on consecutive weeks. Oh well, keeps us all guessing eh?

    • Adrian Payne says:

      Thanks very much for you comments Charles. Absolutely agree with you, Mourinho and Benitez have had some heavyweight clashes, so let’s hope that spills over into the Champions League. I must admit I am a huge fan of Mourinho’s sledging, entertainment at it’s best.

      Regarding the Premier League – I feel the standard amongst the ‘big four (five?)’ has not hit the heights/consistency of the past few seasons. And as you say, if you combine that with the ascending ability, investment and belief now starting to evolve at the so called ‘smaller’ clubs, it for sure makes for a more exciting league. My sole concern here is that this may begin to hinder the performances of Premier League clubs in Europe. The ‘big four’ have been hitting incredibly high levels in Europe over the past few seasons, so the results this season will perhaps be revealing on more than one level.

      Charles, would you and your colleagues prefer a closer Premier League and lesser performances in Europe, or a ‘big four’ monopolised league with enhanced performances in Europe?


  6. Sharon Short says:

    Ronnie O’Sullivan v Stephen Hendry?

  7. Michael Dickson says:

    Your articles make for some fantastic reading Adrian, keep them coming! I strongly agree with your comparisons above. Do you feel Andy Murray will break his duck next season?

    Very best, MD

  8. Don says:

    Excellent reading Adrian ! It certainly gives food for thought and you might have a look at Rossi vs Lorenzo which is still quite current.

  9. Jitin Amor says:

    Carloz Tevez and his bank manager?

  10. nurse practitioner says:

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  11. The T-Lav says:

    Good piece again Adrian! Unfortunately neither of your idols will be battling out in Sunday’s final – is this the time when Murray finally steps up to the plate?

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