What'll be so fascinating about the GOAT debates in the future between these two is trying to determine what their impacts were on each other.
Without Nadal in the picture, does Federer pick up some French Open victories in his prime, giving himself a couple of Grand Slam titles in one calendar year?
Without Federer in the picture, does a guy like Nadal have a few more trophies at such an early age, instead of going up against one of the greatest players in his absolute peak.
Or, are these two guys so great that they've pushed themselves to continue to improve their games in order to one-up each other, and in the process have elevated themselves so much above the rest of the competition, that they've made the field look so bad, even though there's a ton of talent out there.
It's such an incredible rivalry, and such a fascinating sports story.
I've pondered this for years now. I think that Federer has had a greater impact on Nadal, mainly because Nadal looked up to him early on. You always hear Nadal talking (fawning) about how Federer keeps improving his game and how that inspired him.
EDIT: Here's a quote from his USOpen winning presser illustrating so - "But, sure, for me, always, always Roger was an example, especially because he improved his tennis I think during all his career, and thatís a good thing that you can copy, no?"
Not to say that Nadal would've been just a clay court specialist without Federer. But I think Federer definitely motivated him to improve on hard court, which I think he disliked somewhat (Wimbledon, on the other hand, Nadal was going to win because he wanted that title the most).
I never actually had the thought that Federer could've bagged a couple of Calendar Slams if Nadal didn't exist - which I firmly believe as Nadal was the only man he lost to during his run. That's slightly depressing to this Federer fan.
Originally Posted by RECsGuy
For those who still doubt Nadal, ask yourself this:
From this point forward, who could beat Rafa in a best of five set match? And what surface would such an upset take place on?
Perhaps I'm just mythifying del Potro, but perhaps del Potro or a del Potro-like player on a hard court. BUT, Nadal's intensity would have to drop from what it was like in the final.