has always been toughest rival during the 21-year tennis career the Swiss had so far. The Spaniard always hit a lot of top spin forehands towards the Basel natives backhand, and thats why he leads the head to head meetings 22-15.
But since 2015, things have changed. That year Federer defeated Nadal in a three-set Basel final, then in 2017 four wins on four matches came: Australian Open final, Indian Wells fourth round, Miami Open final, Shanghai Masters final.
Paul Annacone, who worked as coach with Federer from 2010 to 2013, tried to make the Swiss deliver a better tactic against Nadal, but they did not always manage to do it. Then in 2014, after splitting with Annacone, Roger started working with Stefan Edberg and then with Ivan Ljubicic since the end of 2015.
According to Annacone, two reasons have led to this scenario. The biggest reason was the confidence that he (Federer) earned from the 2017 Australian Open final when he was down 1-3 in the fifth set. When he cameback, there was a mental switch in his mind, being more confident in the big moments and we saw it in the rest of the season, Annacone told in a phone interview.
I was interested at seeing at what level he would be back after recovering from injury, and that win was very exciting. Remember, he did that on hard courts and the conditions were a little bit quicker, so that suited Roger.
But the biggest thing is that he played his gamestyle, which was not the case in the past because of how good Rafa is. ALSO READ: Rafael Nadal: Worse players than David Ferrer won a Grand Slam title