Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the current top two rankers in the ATP Rankings. They are widely perceived as the two legends of the game. They are interlaced in a storied rivalry, which many consider being the greatest in tennis history. They have played each other 38 times, most recently being the final of the 2017 Shanghai Masters. Nadal leads the rivalry with an overall record of 23–15. Of their 12 meetings in the Grand Slam finals, Nadal has won 9 of them. Nadal leads 5–0 at the French Open, while Federer leads 2–1 at Wimbledon, Nadal leads the Australian Open 3-1. The two are yet to meet at any stage of US Open. However, this doesn’t mean they haven’t come close.
Here look at Federer-Nadal near misses in US Open.
The 2008 US Open registered the first of four consecutive tournaments in which both Federer and Nadal reached the semifinals, only for one of them to advance and the other to fall. In the first of these semifinals, it was Andy Murray who spoiled the matchup of No. 1 versus No. 2. Murray defeated Nadal in four sets to oust the top seed in his first US Open semifinal. The British star lost to Federer in the final. Federer won his fifth consecutive US Open crown and 13th career Slam final, one shy of the then-record total of Pete Sampras. It was Murray’s first Slam final.
The 2009 US Open proved an even bigger stunner than the year before. Once again, Federer defeated Djokovic in the semifinals, but it was 20-year-old Juan Martin del Potro who would steal the show. Nadal lost to his Argentine counterpart in the semifinal before the Del Potro overpowered Federer to claim his only Grand Slam title, rallying from a set and a breakdown. It was Federer’s first US Open loss since 2003 and Del Potro’s first win over the Swiss star after six prior losses.2010After years of falling just short in New York, Nadal finally broke through in 2010, dismissing surprise semifinalist Mikhail Youzhny to reach his first US Open men’s singles final. But once again, the Open was denied a Nadal-Fed showdown, the Swiss international held two match points against Novak Djokovic in the final set but lost to the Serbian. However, the Serbian then lost to Nadal in the final. Djokovic overtook Federer for world number two with the triumph.
The 2011 US Open played out similarly to 2010. Nadal rose once again, defeating Andy Murray in just four sets to progress to the showdown for the second consecutive year. He was once again joined there by Djokovic, who once again saved two match points to defeat Federer in a five-set semifinal classic. This time, Djokovic would finish the job, topping Nadal in four sets for his first men’s singles championship.
Federer was in a nearing distance of one match of playing Nadal in a quarterfinal, but the Swiss international lost to Spaniard Tommy Robredo in a fourth-round matchup. Robredo was a player against whom the five-time champion donned a 10-0 lifetime record. Before that, Roger Federer has dropped just three of 25 sets the two had played to that point. Adding to Federer’s favoured standing, Robredo was 0-7 in his career in US Open’s fourth-round matches, while Federer had won nine in a row at Flushing Meadows in the same round.
Nadal breezed past Andrey Rublev in direct sets to reach the semifinals, leaving Roger Federer to see off Juan Martin del Potro later in the day to finally set-up a New York clash with his Spanish rival. However, nobody told Del Potro, who downed Federer in four sets.