Coming into the final few weeks of the ATP season, it is easy to say that the two best players this year have been Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The rankings support this claim with Rafa and Roger being ranked 1 and 2 respectively, but looking at the overall year and how much better they performed than anyone else, it becomes clear that these two legends were far above the rest of the field in 2017. Both Roger and Rafa have won two of the four majors each (Roger winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Rafa winning both the French and US open) while no one else in the top four places in the race to London has even made a major final this year. We as tennis fans can agree that these two are definitely the best players on tour. However, who has been the more dominant player on tour? The rankings say Rafa over Roger, but there are reasons why this can be disputed.
Federer Missed Clay Season
The first being the time that Federer took off during the entire clay season. This allowed for Nadal to reestablish his confidence and gather ranking points while Federer stayed at home to prepare for the grass season. Before the clay season started, Rafa was 0-3 in finals (0-2 against Roger) and he was struggling to get over the hump to win his first title of the year. It wasn’t until the Monte Carlo Masters that he reestablished himself as a winner and went on a tear in the clay season winning Barcelona, Madrid, and finally the French Open.
Record Vs. Top 10
The second reason is the number of wins vs. the top ten for each player. Federer has an 11-1 record against the top 10 (injury was a factor in that one loss), while Nadal has a 12-5 record this year. This shows the continued dominance that Federer has demonstrated on the biggest stage versus the best players. Included in that 11-1 head to head record for Federer is his record against Rafa. As of right now, he stands at 4-0 against Rafa in 2017. This is something that has never been done before in their rivalry, where Federer seems to be the dominant one over Rafa. Federer has not only dominated Rafa, but all of the top 10 this year.
Federer Has Won Large Titles
The last reason that I believe Federer was more dominant than Rafa in 2017 is the number of Masters 1000 titles that Federer won compared to Rafa. Federer won Indian Wells, Miami, and Shanghai (3 in total), while Rafa has only won Monte Carlo and Madrid (the other 4 went to Zverev, Dimitrov, and Sock). Sure, they won the same number of majors, but Federer has won more second-tier titles than Rafa. That should count for something when considering who has been a more dominant player this year.
Regardless of who you believe the best man in 2017 was, Roger and Rafa have been by far the two best players on the tour this year. This is an absolute fact.
- Arvin is from Los Angeles. He currently plays tennis for Wheelock College in Boston where he studies Political Science. His favorite all-time player is Andre Agassi.