Federer and Nadal have met in each of the past three Wimbledon and French Open finals -- Federer winning on grass and Nadal on clay each time until Nadal's five-set Wimbledon win this year. Since 2003, only three other players have won Grand Slam events, with the pair taking 17 of the past 20 championships.
2 of 20AP
The centerpieces of the Red Sox and Yankees, respectively, had the greatest summer of their rivalry in 1941 when Williams hit .406 and DiMaggio went on his record-breaking 56-game hitting streak (DiMaggio would win the MVP that year). Their personal rivalry would extend throughout their careers, but only DiMaggio's Yankees would win World Series titles (nine of them).
3 of 20Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images
After Magic's Michigan State team beat Bird's Indiana State in the 1979 NCAA Tournament final, it would take five years for them to meet in the first of three NBA Finals the Lakers and Celtics played in the span of four years. Magic's Lakers won two of the three meetings, and between 1984 and 1990, the duo would win three NBA MVP awards apiece.
4 of 20AP
Perhaps the best two quarterbacks in the NFL, and often playing for the best two teams, Brady and Manning have met in the playoffs three times (Brady's Patriots winning twice), and their teams have won the Super Bowl in three of the past five seasons. The pair has also won three of the past five MVP awards
5 of 20John G. Zimmerman/SI, James Drake/SI, Walter Iooss Jr./SI
The rivalry that brought golf to the mainstream, Nicklaus and Palmer finished 1-2 in four different major championships. Nicklaus won his first major in a Monday playoff over Palmer in 1963, and Palmer won his only U.S. Open when he came from seven back on Sunday in the 1960 Open.
6 of 20John Iacono/SI
In perhaps the most brutal trilogy of fights in boxing history, Ward and Gatti split a pair of bouts in 2002 before staging an epic final battle. At the June 2003 fight, both faces were bloody, Gatti rebroke his right hand in the fourth round and was knocked to the canvas in the sixth, but came out on top in the scoring. Gatti-Ward I and Gatti-Ward III were named "Fight of the Year" by Ring Magazine in 2002 and 2003, respectively.
7 of 20Tony Triolo/SI, Neil Leifer/SI
With two fights in Madison Square Garden, the Thrilla in Manila, and permanent bad blood afterward, Ali-Frazier goes down as the greatest boxing rivalry of all time. The pair split the first fights in New York before Ali won in 14 rounds in Manila, a fight he called "the closest thing to dying."
8 of 20Bob Martin/SI
From 1993 to 2002, the pair won 20 of the 40 Grand Slam events, meeting in five Grand Slam finals, including Sampras's last competitive match, his win at the 2002 U.S. Open. The rivalry was fed by the contrast between Sampras' quiet on-court demeanor and Agassi's younger, wild persona.
9 of 20Manny Millan/SI
Coined "The War" by promoter Bob Arum, the April 1985 Hearns-Hagler fight is considered one of the most brutal slugfests in boxing history. Hagler knocked Hearns out in three rounds in what was named the fight of the year.
10 of 20Heinz Kluetmeier/SI, David Allio/Icon SMI
Winning six Winston Cup titles in eight years from 1980-1987, Earnhardt and Waltrip shared a bitter rivalry on the track as NASCAR's best drivers. Off the track, Waltrip joined Earnhardt's racing team late in his career and was one of the biggest advocates for greater safety restrictions after Earnhardt's death.
11 of 20Walter Iooss Jr./SI
Meeting in back-to-back finals at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, McEnroe won three of the four matches, also breaking Borg's five-year Wimbledon reign in 1981. Borg's five-set win over McEnroe in the 1980 Wimbledon final is considered one of the greatest tennis matches of all time.
12 of 20Manny Millan/SI
Duran gave Leonard his first loss in a June 1980 fight, but Leonard got revenge and got back the welterweight crown when Duran famously cried "No mas" after being pummeled by Leonard for eight rounds.
13 of 20IHA/Icon SMI, AP
Maurice "Rocket" Richard
They both played right wing and both wore No. 9 on their sweaters, and when Howe entered the league he was constantly compared to the NHL's five-time leading scorer. Howe would go on to lead the league in scoring six times.
14 of 20AP
With a Time magazine cover pumping up the Cold War geopolitical implications of the match, Fischer became the first competitor from outside the Soviet Union to earn the right to challenge for the championship. Fischer won, and after not playing competitive chess for 20 years, returned in 1992 to challenge Spassky. Again, Fischer won.
15 of 20AP
Kobayashi dominated the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest for six straight years, but his reign ended in 2007 when American Joey Chestnut ate 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes to Kobayashi's 63. The matchup reached new drama this year when the pair tied at 59 hot dogs (the contest had been shortened by two minutes), and went to overtime where Chestnut finished five dogs faster than Kobayashi.
16 of 20Manny Millan/SI
They started out as friends and grew to loathe each other over the course of what tennis scribe/commentator Bud Collins called "The Rivalry of the Century" -- 80 matches from 1973-88, with the fiery Navratilova topping the steely Evert, 43-37, but each coming away with 18 Grand Slam singles titles.
17 of 20Lane Stewart/SI
How's this for metronomic dominance: NASCAR's top two all-time leaders in wins (Petty 200, Pearson 105) finished 1-2 in 63 races between August '63 and June '77. (Pearson won 33.) In all, The King and The Silver Fox faced each other 550 times, with Petty finishing ahead, 289-261, and winning seven championships to Pearson's three.
18 of 20Bettmann/Corbis
The two giants met on the hardwood 142 times in 10 years, including six Eastern Conference Championships (1960, '62, '65. '66, '67, '68) and two NBA Finals ('64, '69). Wilt won the battle of stats, out-rebounding Russell 29-24 per game and scoring 50 or more points against him seven times, including 62 on Jan, 14, 1962, but the final score of that one - Celtics 145, Warriors 136 -- said it all about the rivalry's bottom line: Russell won 11 championships to Chamberlain's one.
19 of 20Paul Bereswill/SI, David E. Klutho/SI
The Great One ruled the '80s with his four-time Stanley Cup champion Oilers, but Super Mario ended Gretzky's run of seven straight scoring titles and eight consecutive MVP awards during the 1987-88 season. From then on, either superstar would win the scoring crown each season through '93-'94, but Lemieux took possession of the big silverware, coppng the Cup in '91 and '92. Gretzky's Kings reached the Cup final in '93.
20 of 20Jerry Cooke/SI
Most folks only remember the 1978 Triple Crown won by Affirmed (6) with the dogged Alydar (3) finishing second in all three races (he briefly poked his head in front during the Belmont stretch run). But the two great colts met 10 times between June '77 and August '88. Affirmed won seven, with Alydar taking the Great American, the Champagne, and the Travers (when Affirmed was disqualified for interfering with his rival).
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