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By Chris Oddo | Saturday October 31, 2015

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will finally renew their storied rivalry in Basel on Sunday. Join us as we peek inside the numbers of Nadal v Federer.

Photo Source: AP

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will finally meet again on Sunday in the finals of the Swiss Indoors Basel. It will be the pair's first meeting since Day 12 of the 2014 Australian Open. The pair nearly met this summer in Cincinnati, as they were slated to play in the quarterfinals, but Nadal fell in the round of 16 to Feliciano Lopez. In press that week, Federer spoke about the prospects of facing Nadal again this year, and here is some of what Roger had to say:

Yeah, but sometimes they come in bunches and sometimes it doesn't happen for a while. You don't know why. Clearly Rafa has also not played much last year. He was injured, he had the appendix, and then next thing you know I didn't have a good '13 so I wasn't getting very deep into tournaments then when he was playing great. We kind of missed each other because we were still highly ranked; we were far away in the draw. But of course it would be nice to play again. There is no doubt.

Will these two legends place extra weight on their 34th career battle seeing how it could mark the beginning of a new (final?) phase of the rivalry for Federer, one that will likely see him on more level footing with Nadal? And if Federer, as many believe, is able to take control of Nadal on Sunday in Basel, what would that mean for his confidence heading into London and 2016? Could it be the missing ingredient that inspires him to finally grab the 18th Grand Slam title he's been coveting? Consequently, will a loss cause a tumble of spirits?

For Nadal, a victory would mark his biggest win in terms of ranking this season, and there is a theory floating around in certain circles that playing Roger could stir up some ancient memories that might trigger his renewal even further. As much as the public is concerned about Rafa's form and his surprisingly human results at the majors and the Masters 1000 events this year, he is slowly and ever so surely coming back to form. Could a tussle with Federer, the man that inspired Rafa in many ways to become the reigning Tasmanian Devil of tennis, help him clear another hurdle on his way back to elite status?

Then, of course, there's the nostalgia of it all. There's the first meeting over eleven years ago, that saw Nadal--a guy that supposedly would never learn to play on hard courts--down a then No. 1 ranked Federer, 6-3, 6-3. There was the revenge of Federer the next year in Miami (not easy), followed by Nadal's slow encroachment in the ensuing years of everything that Federer owned, culminating with one of the greatest matches of all-time in the 2008 Wimbledon final that saw Nadal win his first non-Clay major and end Roger's run of five straight Wimbledon titles, all in one ecstasy-inducing five-setter.

That match lingers over the collective consciousness of the tennis world like a security blanket, telling us all that we've been a part of something so special, so transcendant, that can never be taken away. I'm not speaking for everyone here, but you know who you are if you agree with me. The fading light of that Wimbledon Sunday, a sleeveless Nadal chomping the trophy as cameras flashed to illuminate the Spaniard and a teary-eyed, CRUSHED Roger Federer out of near blackness.

That moment in 2008, we saw two of the things we'd forever cherish about Nadal and Federer. For Nadal it was his gusto, his ability to rival Federer on the surface he excelled at the most, his ability to out maneuver him, to seek and destroy and to outperform at the net and at the surface stripe to prove that he was not only an incredible, game-changing athlete, he was also a constantly evolving phenom destined to be perhaps the most dominant player to ever hold a racquet. For Federer it was the way that he let the world into his emotions. Absolutely crushed, too crushed in fact, to hide it, we saw just how deeply Federer cared about his profession, about his place in the tennis pantheon, about Wimbledon, and about losing his grip on tennis's top spot. As fans, we don't want our athletes taking losing lightly. With Federer, we worry that sometimes he may be taken it too hard. It's a beautiful thing. 

And the chemistry of their rivalry, though one-sided and predictable at times, has been a beautiful thing as well. Based on Mutual respect and tennis at its most elite and in its most hungry form, it has provided us with nearly 12 years of unbelievable, heartfelt and gutwrenching moments. The fact that they're still going strong as they meet for the 34th time--strong enough and HUNGRY enough to be threats to win majors--is more testament to what Nadal and Federer have achieved in unison throughout their history.

Now, for some numbers....

Here's a peek inside the numbers of their rivalry:

31: Number of Grand Slams won by Federer and Nadal combined (it was 30 at their last meeting). Either Federer or Nadal has won 31 of the last 50 Grand Slam titles. Only seven other men have won Grand Slams in that period (Andy Roddick, Gaston Gaudio, Marat Safin, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro, Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray).

23-10: Nadal holds a significant edge in the series, thanks to his dominant 13-2 record against Federer on clay. Nadal also holds an 9-2 edge in the pair's previous Grand Slam encounters (5-0 at Roland Garros, 3-0 at Australia, 1-2 at Wimbledon).

6-9: Federer's record against Nadal on hard courts.

4-1: Federer's large indoor advantage over Nadal

11: Number of deciding sets they've played. Nadal owns a 7-4 record in deciders vs. Federer.

21: Number of tiebreaks the pair have played.Nadal leads 11-10. Federer won their longest tiebreaker in the fourth-set of their 2008 Wimbledon final, 10-8.

25: Number of times the winner of the first set has gone on to win their 33 previous matches, including 19 of the last 22 meetings. Nadal is 17-2 when taking the opener, Federer is 8-6.

28,976,999: Total number of Facebook likes amassed by the two tennis icons. Federer: 14,403, 757; Nadal, 14,573,242 (much closer than their H2H).

10: Number of different countries Federer and Nadal have played a tour-level match in (England: 6), (France: 5), (U.S.: 6), (Monaco: 3), (Spain: 3), (Australia: 3), (China: 2), (Germany: 2), (Italy: 2), (United Arab Emirates: 1)

0: The number of players who have won multiple titles at each Grand Slam in the Open Era. Roy Emerson and Rod Laver are the only two non-Open Era players to have achieved it.

154: Titles won by Federer and Nadal. Federer has 87, Nadal 67. They've collectively added 16 titles since their last meeting in 2014.

443: Number of weeks at No. 1 by Federer and Nadal combined. Federer leads all ATP players past and present at 302 weeks at No. 1. Nadal has held the ATP top spot for 141 weeks. Will either get back to No. 1 again?

4: Number of bagel sets in their 33 previous matches. Federer has three (2006 Wimbledon, 2007 Hamburg, 2011 World Tour Finals) and Nadal has one (2008 Roland Garros).

8: Number of times that either Federer or Nadal has finished as ATP year-end No. 1 in the last 11 years. Federer did it in 2004-2007 and 2009, Nadal did it in 2008, 2010 and 2013.

586,364: Number of die-hard tennis fans that have cried watching this video.

5: Number of rivalries that have met more times than Nadal and Federer (two are tied). Djokovic-Nadal have met 45 times, Djokovic-Federer have met 42 times. Lendl-McEnroe met 36, Connors-Lendl met 35, Becker-Edberg met 35, Connors-McEnroe met 34, Agassi-Sampras met 34.


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