Rafael Nadal (L) of Spain embraces Roger Federer of Switzerland during the trophy presentation for the men's tennis final on day 14 of the Australian Open in Melbourne on early February 2, 2009.    Rafael Nadal won a classic Australian Open final against Roger Federer 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 3-6, 6-2 to secure his first hard-court Grand Slam and stop the Swiss equalling the all-time Majors record.          AFP PHOTO / GREG WOOD
Rafael Nadal, left, plays Roger Federer in the Australian Open semi-final today.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal's rivalry never gets old

Look at them. Rafael Nadal has very big hair. Roger Federer still has that ponytail that would meet scissors and be forgotten. Both use white headbands. Nadal wears a sleeveless shirt, red to the verge of burgundy. Federer has white with a horizontal stripe.

Nadal's face looks vaguely chubby; after all, he's only 17. Federer is only 22 himself, with two grand slam titles and a fresh No 1 ranking. They whack the ball through the sweaty Miami night, March 28, 2004, a Sunday but not a final Sunday, a last 32 match for mercy's sake, an age ago.

Federer loses and comes in and refers to the difficulty of a first meeting: "He doesn't hit the ball flat and hard. It's more with a lot of spin, which makes the ball bounce, bounce high, and that's a struggle I had today. … And you know, he hit some really incredible shots. That's what youngsters do, so …"

Nadal wins and comes in and foreshadows his trademark modesty: "Obviously, he didn't play his best tennis and that's the reason why I could win. I mean, if he had played his best tennis, I would have had no chance."

Watch Nadal's inelegant little hop after his put-away wins match point, and somehow the video seems a chunk of prehistory. That owes much to the volumes tucked between Federer v Nadal, Match No 1, March 2004, and Federer v Nadal, Match No 27, slated tonight in Melbourne, Australia.

The 25 matches in between defy easy comprehension so that the memory fumbles some perfectly good jewels.

There was a marvellous five-set plot in a Wimbledon final in 2007, which Federer won with a 6-2 fifth set. It barely comes up in conversation. There was that four-set Wimbledon final in 2006, which Federer won but which hinted - no, shouted - that Nadal had become that black swan, an elite Spanish grass-court player. That day has left most minds.

Federer rebounded from two sets down in a Miami final in 2005. Nadal looked so fearsome through Roland Garros in 2007 that it seemed Federer should get an extra trophy for the one set he squeezed out in the final. They went five hours and five minutes in Rome in 2006, Nadal winning 7-6 in the fifth.

You have to be a serious nut to recall all that by now. By now, the memory can handle only the top-drawer stuff in the top-tier rivalry.

They had 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7, and almost nobody ever had anything like that, a 2008 Wimbledon final of heights seldom accessed by any sporting event. Nadal won. Nobody lost.

They had that night in Australia in 2009 where Nadal won in five gruelling sets, and Federer sobbed, and Nadal put an arm around Federer, and their giant heap of dignity came on view.

Of late, still in mind, they had the 2011 French Open final which, while extending Nadal's clay-court advantage over Federer to 12-2, wended through the first two sets in unpredictability, Federer looking haunted at almost claiming them.

In Miami, in 2004, did the 17-year-old Nadal seem nervous at the outset?

"No," Federer replied that night.

Who was this left-hander ranked No 36?

"When I play well," Nadal said that night, "I'm a very aggressive player with a good forehand and I fight very hard on the court."

Is that so?

Nadal entered the Federer-filled picture after the latter had won the 2003 Wimbledon and the 2004 Australian. The idea of watching Federer had begun to transcend the tennis-minded and find the aesthetes who just fancied beauty.

After Miami 2004, Federer-Nadal would not occur again until Miami 2005, and again in a French Open semi-final in 2005. The frequency built, then ebbed into the occasional: finals and semi-finals and round-robins that find the two still more than relevant.

In the stuffed years since Nadal's 6-3, 6-3 upset in Miami, they have tacked on 24 more grand slams to get to 16 and 10.

As those numbers built, they combined to forge what the uppermost rivalries forge, which is that somehow neither seems to occlude the other even partially. Their homes - Basel, Switzerland and Mallorca, Spain - seem to have ceased to matter as they have come to belong to the planet.

So here we are, 2012 already, and still we get to see them out on the court together, their match a colossal grand slam semi-final and not some early-round farewell to the fading. They still star in a golden phase even if by now they have other company. All this time after Miami, and still in the middle of the remarkable.


Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).


Company name: Clinicy
Started: 2017
Founders: Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman, Abdullah bin Sulaiman Alobaid and Saud bin Sulaiman Alobaid
Based: Riyadh
Number of staff: 25
Sector: HealthTech
Total funding raised: More than $10 million
Investors: Middle East Venture Partners, Gate Capital, Kafou Group and Fadeed Investment


Company name: Co Chocolat

Started: 2017

Founders: Iman and Luchie Suguitan

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Food

Funding: $1 million-plus

Investors: Fahad bin Juma, self-funding, family and friends

Alita: Battle Angel

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Stars: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Keean Johnson

Four stars

The specs

Engine: 3.6 V6

Transmission: 8-speed auto

Power: 295bhp

Torque: 353Nm

Price: Dh155,000

On sale: now

Shooting Ghosts: A U.S. Marine, a Combat Photographer, and Their Journey Back from War by Thomas J. Brennan and Finbarr O’Reilly

The biog

Occupation: Key marker and auto electrician

Hometown: Ghazala, Syria

Date of arrival in Abu Dhabi: May 15, 1978

Family: 11 siblings, a wife, three sons and one daughter

Favourite place in UAE: Abu Dhabi

Favourite hobby: I like to do a mix of things, like listening to poetry for example.

Favourite Syrian artist: Sabah Fakhri, a tenor from Aleppo

Favourite food: fresh fish


Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

Points to remember
  • Debate the issue, don't attack the person
  • Build the relationship and dialogue by seeking to find common ground
  • Express passion for the issue but be aware of when you're losing control or when there's anger. If there is, pause and take some time out.
  • Listen actively without interrupting
  • Avoid assumptions, seek understanding, ask questions

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone


Keep up with all the Middle East and North Africa athletes at the 2024 Paris Olympics

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy