Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
If you’re a tennis fan, you should set your DVR to ESPN2 at 2:30 EST today — or better yet, watch live.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal – who have won 25 of the last 30 Grand Slam titles – will play a pair of exhibitions today (Dec. 21) and tomorrow (Dec. 22) on ESPN2.
The two indoor hard-court best-of-three set matches will take place in each player’s home country, benefiting his charitable foundation.
On Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 2 p.m. ET, the two legends will meet at Hallenstadion Arena in Zurich, Switzerland, benefitting the Roger Federer Foundation. A day later, they will play again, at La Caja Magica in Madrid, Spain, at 1 p.m. with proceeds going to Fundacion Rafael Nadal.
“Federer and Nadal have rarely played each other on a hard court surface – and never at the US Open – so it will be fun to see their styles in this environment,” Patrick McEnroe said. “Being indoors, a quicker surface where the ball doesn’t bounce as high, favors Federer, the more aggressive player. But he’s five years older than Rafa, so for me it’s more about seeing where he is heading to 2011 than Nadal, who clearly supplanted Roger as no. 1 this year. I believe Roger can and will still win majors, but every time it’s Nadal who the man to beat.
“These are called exhibitions, whenever these two guys square off, the competitive juices start flowing and the crowds and spectacle will be terrific as each plays in his own country,” McEnroe continued. “Certainly no two other players in the world could pull this off.”
Federer said, “I always enjoy playing Rafa on the big stages and it is especially exciting when we can do it to help raise monies for our foundations. I am sure that the fans in Zurich, Madrid and those around the world who will catch it on TV or the internet will see some exciting tennis for a great cause.”
Nadal added, “Playing Roger is always something special for me. I think it is also special for the fans since we played great matches all these years. But to play for a special cause as we are in Switzerland and Spain in December makes it even more special since we are helping also other people”
The Federer-Nadal Rivalry
Although Federer and Nadal have dominated the top of men’s tennis for the last eight years, they have not often met head to head. They held the top two rankings on the ATP Tour for more than four years (July 2005 – September 2009), and are the only pair of men to finish five consecutive calendar years at the top. Nevertheless, their personal rivalry stands at only 21 matches. However, 17 of those were in tournament finals, including seven in Grand Slam events. Nadal leads overall 14-7, thanks to a 10-2 advantage on clay. On hard courts, such as in these exhibitions, they are even at three wins each. Their 2008 Wimbledon final is widely regarded as the greatest tennis match in history. In the longest final in Wimbledon history (4 hours and 48 minutes) and ending in near darkness, Nadal ended Federer’s five-year reign 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7.
And like ZAGS on Facebook.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.