TC All-Star Championships: Fedal rivalry and the tournament champ

Tennis Channel’s All-Star virtual tournament is underway; Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are our two predicted regional champions. Here’s why each one of them could win the tournament and who will end up on top.

We’ve reached Lob and Smash’s predicted championship match for the Tennis Channel Fantasy Showdown. With no surprise, it’s Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal. The battle of the game’s two greatest players ever is set to take place. Here’s why both Federer and Nadal could take the victory and who we think will ultimately finish out on top.

Why Federer will win: Federer has the heart of the fans more so than any other player in history. As tennis’s most marketable star, his art-like game and years of dominance over his opponents captured the love of fans across the world, even as the grinder mentalities of Nadal and Djokovic sprung up in the process. While Federer has had his share of struggles, most recently coming just yesterday (He has pulled out of the 2020 season due to knee injuries).

Regardless of that, Federer is a global icon. Everyone knows him and tennis fans adore him. With 20 major championships (8 Wimbledon, 6 Australia, 5 US Open, 1 Roland Garros), 310 weeks spent at #1 in the world, and a point in which he reached 18 or 19 major finals from Wimbledon 2005-Australia 2010, Federer is the most accomplished player of all time.

In terms of his record against his virtual opponent here, Federer doesn’t have the edge all-time. Nadal leads 24-16, but as of 2015, Federer has lost only once in the eight times they faced off against each other. His only loss came at Roland Garros last year, where Nadal wiped the floor with him in a straight-sets semifinal victory. Federer has the head-to-head advantage over Nadal since then; that certainly plays a major factor in leveling the playing field H2H.

Federer’s accolades outweigh Nadal’s enough to give him this victory. While Nadal will likely pass Federer in major championships, Federer holds the current advantage, especially in the case of World #1. Nadal fans can make the case that both he and Djokovic have outplayed Federer in the 2010s, however, Federer dominated tennis in his prime and held Nadal to only 2 majors (not counting Roland Garros) through 2010.

Why Nadal will win: He may not have the 20 major championships or 310 total weeks spent at the top, but what Nadal has is pure domination. No other player in the history of tennis has more than 12 major championship victories at a single event. For men, Nadal’s 12 Roland Garros titles are easily ahead of Federer’s 8 Wimbledons and Djokovic’s 8 Australian Open titles. The only player, man or woman, to even come close to the Spaniard’s record is Margaret Court, who collected 11 Australian Open titles in her career.

Nadal, while being the #2 guy in both decades (behind Federer in the 2000s and Djokovic in the 2010s), has still performed like the best despite it. He sits only one major championship away from tying Federer’s 20, and it’s entirely possible that he gets to that mark (or even beats it) if the 2020 tennis season resumes.

Nadal’s domination in Paris is what headlines his incredible career. When comparing the Big 3, The US Open has been heavily contested among the three, with Federer winning 5, Nadal winning 4, and Djokovic winning 3. The same can be said in Wimbledon; Federer has won 8 and Djokovic 5. In Australia, it’s once again similar: Djokovic has 8 and Nadal has 6. The only major event where this isn’t the case is at Roland Garros. Nadal’s 12 titles far outmatch Federer and Djokovic’s 1 each.

When comparing Federer and Nadal, Nadal leads their all-time head-to-head. While Federer has taken 8 of the last 9, it’s been Nadal that has had more overall success in the matchup. You can make the argument that 2017 Federer was a much different player than 2019 (the last time these two played), which does validate Nadal’s losses.

Federer went 4-0 against Nadal in 2017 and 2-1 in 2019. Both players were coming back from injury and Federer proved to have the upper hand in that regard. However, in 2019, both players were back at their full forms and it showed. While Nadal lost two matches, he also collected 2 major titles (Roland Garros and US Open) in 2019, whereas Federer reached the finals in only one event (Wimbledon). He bowed out in the Australian Round of 16, Roland Garros semifinals, and US Open quarterfinals. He was thoroughly outmatched and didn’t perform up to the same level as Nadal since 2018.

Nadal would take the win in this matchup due to his recent success in comparison to Federer and his potential to take over the top spot for most Grand Slams of all-time. His 12 Roland Garros titles are his crowning achievement and is something Federer could never accomplish in his career: historical dominance in one event.

Who’s going to win: Federer should emerge as the winner here. While Nadal has put together one of the greatest careers in the history of tennis, Federer has done exactly the same and is more of a fan favorite. Nadal might end up with more major titles, but as of now, Federer is the golden boy of tennis and will win the Tennis Channel Fantasy Showdown over his rival and friend, Rafael Nadal.