Roger Federer’s first ever ‘scouting report’ on Rafael Nadal resurfaces 18 years later

Rafa Nadal reacts to winning French Open at Roland-Garros

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Roger Federer’s first ever scouting report on fellow great Rafael Nadal has resurfaced 18 years after the legendary pair met on the court for the very first time. The first clash in their epic rivalry came way back in 2004, when a fresh-faced Nadal took on Federer in the third round of the Miami Masters.

The pair had already met in a doubles match one week prior, but their first individual clash came at the US-based event. 18 years on from their maiden meet, comments from Federer on the then rising star have resurfaced and it is fair to say the Swiss stalwart got his predictions exactly right.

On facing Nadal in 2004, Federer said: “Luckily I played him in the doubles last week so I know a little bit more about his game than I would have. So at least I don’t have to see him play anymore because I know how he plays now, and I’m looking forward [to the match].

During his scout report of the Spanish starlet, Federer predicted that Nadal will be ‘around in the future’ and it is more than fair to see the Spaniard lived up to – and surpassed – those expectations. Federer added: “It’s going to be a good match. He is definitely going to be one of the guys that is around in the future.

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In the match Nadal gave a taste of what was to come, as the 17-year-old stunned Federer by defeating the then world No. 1 in straight sets. One year later the two greats of the game met for a second time once again in Miami – in the eagerly anticipated best of five sets final.

This time the Swiss legend finally got his revenge, as he recovered from two sets down to win the final three, clinching the match and the title. Since then the pair have of course gone on to play out one of sport’s great rivalries, announcing them as arguably tennis’ two greatest players. Between them, the duo have amassed a remarkable 42 Grand Slam titles, as Nadal edged past Federer – and fellow great rival Novak Djokovic – this year after securing the Australian and French Open to move on 22 crowns, two more than Federer and Djokovic.

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After clinching the opening two big titles, Nadal will no doubt be hoping to continue his hunt for the 2022 Grand Slam at this month’s Wimbledon. There were doubts that the Spaniard would not be making the trip to SW19 due to ongoing fitness problems, however the 36-year-old revealed this week that he ‘intends’ to compete at the end of June.

He said: “The last week of training tells me there is a chance. My intention is to play at Wimbledon.” There were good signs for tennis fans, and the Spaniard’s hopes of competing after footage emerged of Nadal playing on the grass courts out in Mallorca in preparation for Wimbledon in nine days time.

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