Rivalries in tennis have pretty much shaped the game. The on court dog fight for every point is what makes the game of tennis so exciting to watch. But many a time what might appear to be a fierce rivalry on TV is not so at the personal level. Once the match is over players tend to be more respectful and adorable to the rival. We look at 3 such rivalries where on court competitors are off court buddies.
3. Andy Murray And Novak Djokovic
Murray and Djokovic have played each other 36 times with the Serb taking 25 victories and 11 going to the Brit. They have managed to play each other in all Grand Slam finals, a feat which even Federer and Nadal could not achieve. On court this rivalry is fierce and intense but off the court the two are known to get along with each other very well.
Andy and Novak have known each other since the age of 11 and came to the tour pretty much at same time. Prior to that, they played each other many time in the Challenger Events. The Murray Djokovic rivalry became famous in the year of 204 to 2016 when Federer and Nadal were not so much at their best.
The two have met in 4 Australian Open finals with Djokovic winning them all. They have also played 1 final each at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open. But even during those prime years of their rivalry the Murray-Djokovic friendship was one of the shining examples for the spirit of the game.
2. Björn Borg And John McEnroe
This rivalry was a classic example of contrast not only in their game-style but also off-court conduct. Borg, the super Swede with ice blood running in his veins was dominating the Clay of Roland Garros and Grass of Wimbledon at the same time. In came McEnroe, a flashy left hander from America who would be as famous for his on court antics as his fluid game.
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The 2 met each other 14 times sharing 7 victories each. Their clashes in Wimbledon 1980 and 1981 made history. Borg retired prematurely in 1981 at 25 years of age. McEnroe in his own words was deprived of his greatest rival. The two however continued to be close friends.
The friendship and respect of these 2 rivals is visible when they meet as opposing captains in the Laver Cup. What is amazing is that John McEnroe, who was known for his brat behavior never showed any disrespect towards Björn Borg during and after their playing days.
1. Roger Federer And Rafael Nadal
There has been no rivalry in tennis as historic as Federer and Nadal. Fedal as they are famously known have been game’s 2 most glorified and liked players. Yet off the court their rivalry translated into a beautiful friendship. The 2 met each other 1st time at Miami in 2004 and have played 40 times since then.
Nadal holds the upper hand with 24 victories but they have managed to put their rivalry aside, once outside the tennis court. Nadal has always been respectful to Federer calling him the Greatest player ever. The Swiss in return shows a lot of respect and adulation to Rafa saying that he always knew that Nadal would sweep his records sometime.
Federer and Nadal are locked in the Grand Slam race standing at 1st and 2nd place but they continue to give the world an examples of a perfect role model. Their friendship is as or perhaps more beautiful than their rivalry.