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The match was dubbed the ‘Battle of Surfaces’, and was played in Mallorca, Spain on a half and half court. The court had clay on one side and grass on the other. It cost over £1 million to construct.
At that time, Federer was the top player, he was the world number one and was on a 48 match win streak on grass, Nadal was three years unbeaten on clay.
Speaking ahead of the much anticipated match, Federer said: “We are both looking forward to this absolutely new event. The idea really appeals to me as we both dominate one of the surfaces.”
“It’ll be fun to find out what it’s like to play on a court with mixed surfaces! And it ought to be interesting to see who chooses the better tactic.”
With 7,000 tennis fans in the stands, Spaniard Nadal took the first set 7-5.
Federer bounced back in the second set and won 6-4 to take the match to a deciding third and final set.
The third set was a roller coaster ride, swinging one way then the other but it was Nadal who eventually came out on top after winning the tie break 12-10.
After the match, Nadal spoke of the experience of playing on a half and half court.
He said: “It was a good experience, although before the game I thought it would be a disaster because I felt it would be very difficult for me to adapt to the court.”
Since that match, both players continued to dominate on their preferred surface. Federer now holds a record eight Wimbledon titles, his last triumph at the All England Club was in 2017. Since then he has won the Australian Open to take his Grand Slam total to 20. Now at 40-years-old, the Swiss is yet to feature this season as he recovers from a double knee surgery.
Nadal has been imperial on clay, he has won the French Open a record 14 times, with his latest coming last week after a straight sets 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 victory over Casper Ruud, with that, he won a record extending 22nd Grand Slam title.
Nadal now holds a staggering record of 112 wins and just three defeats at Roland Garros, the King of Clay has only lost to two players in the French Open, in the shape of Robin Soderling and Novak Djokovic.
The debate will continue, who is the greatest tennis player of all time?