On Wednesday, Roger Federer attended the opening of Rafael Nadal's tennis academy in the Spaniard’s hometown of Manacor, Mallorca. The Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar is for players between 10 and 18 years of age, and provides education and tennis training for attendees.
While there, Federer received a personalized gift from his friendly rival—a set of photos capturing their many meetings on the world stage, accompanied by a welcoming speech.
“Dear Roger,” Nadal was quoted as saying by Spanish newspaper Marca, “Thank you for your support at the official opening of my academy. Today is an unforgettable day for me, my family and my team. You can not imagine how special it is to have you here with us.”
The only catch was there were far more photos of Nadal victories, for the Spaniard leads 23-11 in their career record.
Federer nevertheless appreciated the gesture, with the two players having forged a strong relationship during their careers.
“There was always mutual respect between Rafa and I, regardless of the logical pressure to achieve our respective goals,” said Federer.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion offered some complimentary words of his own. “I don’t how many people like Rafa’s caliber have an academy,” he said. “And it’s also in his hometown. So I see his DNA all around and that is an incredible bonus in my opinion.
“If you look at this academy, you can see that it is something special where he, his family and friends have been very involved. His work ethic is right there at the top and he can share his values and experience with the kids.”
Regarding their current place in the sport, Nadal spoke for Federer in saying that, despite an injury-filled season for both men, they are each aiming to get back to the top of the game.
“Neither Roger or I have forgotten the way to play tennis,” said Nadal, “and we are working to get back to the highest level.”
Nadal said he sees “years of tennis” in front of him, and said in Shanghai that he was considering not playing again this season to do extra training.
The Spaniard added that Federer could “return to playing the important matches” once he has recovered from the knee and back injuries that have sidelined him during the season.
Nadal is currently No. 7 in the rankings, while Federer is No. 12.
In other news, Federer and Nadal were both nominated for the ATP’s Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship award, which is voted on by fellow players.