Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal
Tennis, like boxing, is a sport built upon rematches. So we’ll limit ourselves to somewhat recent memory and go with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. They’ve faced each other 28 times in professional play, with Nadal leading the series 18-10. Their rivalry began in the third round of the Miami Masters in 2004 and peaked with a series of rematches at the Wimbledon finals in 2006-08. Federer won their first showdown and the first rematch, but it was the second rematch that re-wrote the tennis history books and was called “the greatest match ever played.” After two rain delays and 4 hours, 48 minutes, Nadal emerged with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (8), 9-7 grueling victory. It was a successor to the infamous Bjorn Borg-John McEnroe Wimbledon rematch of 1980-81. Borg silenced the testy McEnroe in 1980 with a five-set victory. McEnroe won their rematch in four sets a year later. Andy Murray and Federer had the sport’s most recent great rematch. Federer left Murray reduced to tears after beating the Scot in four sets in the 2012 Wimbledon finals. In August, home-crowd favorite Murray overcame two break points and Federer to win the Olympic gold medal on the same patch of grass. Which we’ll have to smoke before we final ourselves writing about tennis again.