I’m just as shocked as the next person about Rafa and Roger’s successes this year. Rafa (31) damaged his left wrist in 2016, causing him to withdraw from the grass court season and perform poorly during the summer and fall hard court swings. Roger (36) underwent a crazy surgery to repair a torn meniscus; so he was out for the back half of the year, meaning he had to miss events like the Olympic Games in Rio and the U.S. Open. After these setbacks, how could 2017 be much of anything other than a recovery year for these guys?
Well, we were all wrong, and it was one of their best years. Not even Rafa saw it coming: after grabbing top spot on the ATP, Rafa told ABC news that “one year ago, for sure I never dreamed about being number one again at the end of the season…it means a lot. After almost 10 years since the first time.” Even in such an awesome season, there is typically a low point. And, of course, his was his loss to Roger in Melbourne. Federer’s victory led him to second on ATP points. “Against Rafa it’s always epic. This one means a lot to me because he’s caused me problems over the years,” noted the great Swiss.
It’s always so scintillating when Roger and Rafa play each other, but let’s look at the stats between the two real quick. Roger won 49 matches this year, lost 4, and bagged 7 titles. Rafa won 65 matches, lost 10, and bagged 6 titles. The latter reached first in the rankings because he played more tourneys and did well enough in them. In his entire career, Roger has won 1129, lost 249, and taken 95 titles home, while Rafa has won 871, lost 184, and taken 75 titles home. You have to keep in mind, though, that Roger went pro in 1998 while Rafa went pro in 2001, so Roger has three more years on tour than Rafa. After all the matches and ups and downs, their rivalry continues to keep fans on the edge of their seats.
With that said, Roger decided to sit out the Paris Masters this year because of a knee injury, which leads me to wonder how bad it really is. Will he be able to play the ATP Finals or play well at the beginning of next year? Roger has proven to be the more consistently healthy player overall, but what a championship year this has been for both of them! Will this surprising run of form continue for the two aging stars in 2018? Roger is going to be turning 37 next year, which could mean that retirement is just around the corner…there’s a reason the guys don’t typically play on tour past 40 (or even 35 for that matter), especially with injuries; I think we’re going to see Roger slowing down from here on out. I guess the real question is: how will he hold up? And what about Rafa’s health as well? This could be the determining factor for their level of success in the new year.
What are your thoughts on next year? Who’s going to come out on top in 2018?
Want to compare their stats in more detail? Check them out here: