‘Battle of the Surfaces’ was a tennis exhibition match that took place in the summer of 2007. It featured the top two players in the world, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal,and was played in Nadal’s home country of Mallorca (an island just off the Spanish coast). The main attraction at the match was the court; half of which was grass, half of which was clay.
In their careers and during their rivalry, both Federer and Nadal had established supremacy on one surface. Federer, the king of Wimbledon, was considered the best grass court player of all time. Nadal, his rival, had earned the nickname the ‘king of clay’. The match was billed as the final reckoning with the two-surfaced court deciding once and for all who the king of the overall game of tennis was.
The players alternated between the grass and clay sides of the court during the match. Across the match, Federer won roughly as many points while playing on the grass side as he did on the clay side. However, the deciding factor was to be Nadal’s superior clay court game, where he won more points on Federer’s serve. This, along with a high ability on the grass side, handed Nadal the overall victory in the match.
The match lead pundits to surmise that while Federer was superior on grass and Nadal was superior on clay, Nadal was the stronger of the two on his weaker surface (in this case, grass) than Federer was on the clay.