Is Nadal better than Federer?

Is Nadal better than Federer?

Is Nadal better than Federer?

Since 2003, Nadal, Djokovic and Federer have crushed the world of tennis: 63 Grand Slam titles between them, 892 weeks at the top of the ATP rankings. And still today, despite their age, Nadal and Djokovic dominate their opponents: three Grand Slams this year, three victories.

The domination of the so-called “Big 3” is crazy, but if you had to choose only one, who would be the lucky one?

The style of play

Federer certainly has the style of play that the crowd likes the most. Very offensive , it gives the impression of never forcing and performs naturally on fast surfaces. His forehand is fabulous, he certainly has the best serve of the three, well helped by the best second ball on the circuit. However, certain aspects of his game are double-edged: his one-handed backhand contributes greatly to the gracefulness of his game, but it is also the weakest of the three, and becomes particularly handicapping on slow surfaces and against players who use a lot of lift, areas where Nadal particularly excels.,Nadal better than Federer.

Nadal is a warrior who never gives up. In his own words, he “plays every point as if his life depended on it”. His defensive style of play is coupled with the best topspin on the circuit. All of this makes him an unplayable player on clay, a slow surface favorable to defenders and very sensitive to spin. Nadal is also known to be a great tactician , he exploits the weaknesses of his opponents to the best of his ability, in particular Federer’s backhand. Nadal, however, has a little more trouble on fast surfaces and indoors.

Djokovic is perhaps the most complete player in the Big 3. His style of play allows him to excel on any type of surface. Apart from his volley, his game has no real weaknesses. His backhand is excellent, probably the best of the three. His agility is also totally crazy and allows him to win unexpected points. Finally, his mind is amazing. It allows him to win matches and tournaments even if he is less good than his opponent. For example, he won three Grand Slams having conceded match points during the tournament, each time against Federer.,Nadal better than Federer.


Djokovic dominates Nadal (30-29) and Federer (27-23) head-to-head. As for the duel between Federer and Nadal, it was largely won by the Spaniard (24-16). This specific point therefore seems to give an advantage to Djokovic and Nadal .

That said, it is important to put this statistic into context: it is partly biased by the surfaces on which the players have faced each other. Thus, the Nadal-Federer history is more marked by the 16 matches on clay between the two players (Nadal’s strong surface), than by the 4 clashes on Grass (Federer’s strong surface).,Nadal better than Federer.

It is also necessary to come back to the age of the players. Federer is 5 years older than Nadal and 6 older than Djokovic. When we look at the Federer-Djokovic history, we see that when Federer was in his prime and Djokovic at the start of his career, the confrontation often turned in favor of the Swiss. Things turned around when the Serbian gained experience and Federer aged.


In terms of raw prize list, it is Federer who leads the dance with 103 titles won in singles , against 92 for Nadal and 87 for Djokovic.

However, it is necessary to reconsider these figures, by adding to them the prestige of the tournaments. The Grand Slams are the most prestigious tournaments , and in this category, Nadal is the best boxer at present: 22 tournaments won , including 14 at Roland Garros. Djokovic and Federer, however, follow very closely with 21 and 20 titles respectively.,Nadal better than Federer.

We can try to go even further in the analysis by zooming in on each victory. Nadal’s domination at Roland Garros can be seen as a quality or as a defect (compared to the other two). Winning the same Grand Slam tournament 14 times seemed impossible before Nadal. However, some observers will prefer Djokovic’s Grand Slam record, which is perhaps more balanced , or even that of Federer, who is today the only player to have won at least three different Grand Slam tournaments five times. It should still be remembered that Nadal’s Grand Slam record remains very complete: he is with Djokovic the only player to have won each of his tournaments twice.

As for the slightly less prestigious tournaments, it is interesting to note that each of the members of the Big 3 has shortcomings to their list .

At the end of the year Masters , Federer (6 titles) slightly dominates Djokovic (5 titles), while Nadal has never won this trophy yet.
At the Olympic Games , things are somewhat reversed: Nadal is the only one to have won the singles title . Federer makes up for this lack slightly with a doubles victory with Stan Wawrinka, but Djokovic has never done better than a bronze medal .,Nadal better than Federer.

Finally, in Masters 1000, Djokovic leads the dance (38 titles) slightly ahead of Nadal (36 titles). Federer is further with “only” 28 titles. The Swiss is certainly handicapped by the fact that no Masters 1000 takes place on grass. It’s also worth noting that Djokovic is the only one to have won each of the nine Masters 1000s : Federer and Nadal are content with seven.

The place of world number 1

The last big part of the list concerns the place of world number one . Here, Djokovic leads the game with 373 weeks spent at the top of the world rankings and seven seasons finished at the top of the ATP rankings. Federer follows (310 weeks, 5 seasons), Nadal is somewhat behind (209 weeks, 5 seasons). To refine these statistics, it should perhaps be remembered that the Spaniard is penalized by the fact that he has often been number 2 (370 weeks against 218 for the Swiss and 119 for the Serbian), often behind Federer in the years 2000 then Djokovic in the 2010s. Finally, he is also the player least spared from injury since the start of his career.


The careers of the members of the Big 3 are not over. Therefore, we can try to make projections about the end of their careers. Federer is the one who will certainly have the most difficulty filling his prize list: he is now over 41 and he has been injured for over a year.

Djokovic and Nadal are also at the twilight of their careers, at 35 and 36 respectively. However, they have shown during this season that they are still capable of dominating tennis. Nadal won the last Australian Open and the last Roland Garros and Djokovic the last Wimbledon . The two players may be able to win a few more tournaments and improve their record given their current form. However, nothing is done yet: Nadal must, in addition to his age, fight against more and more physical glitches . Djokovic him, because of his refusal of the vaccine, could miss the next US Open and Australian Open. In addition, other younger players intend to make it difficult for them: Alcaraz, Medvedev, Tsitsipas or Zverev to name a few.

Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have undoubtedly marked the history of tennis forever. We can, without too many worries, say that these are the three best players of all time . On the other hand, it is much less easy to classify them between them. We will not take this initiative here and will simply conclude by saying that the answer depends greatly on your personal sensitivities: should we prefer the most complete, the most combative, the most graceful, the one with the best longevity, the one with the best mental ? We let you decide.

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