Helipads. Glaciers. A tennis court made from two different surfaces.
There have been some very unique tennis matches played this century, mostly involving Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
So, with the top names in tennis about to step on to court for the first time this year at the ‘A Day at the Drive’ exhibition in Adelaide this week, we thought we would look back at some of the more memorable exhibition events…
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Federer vs Agassi on the Burj Al Arab helipad

Tennis at 1,053 feet in the air.
The helipad on top of the five-star Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai was transformed into a grass tennis court for a match between Roger Federer and Andre Agassi in 2005. And it looked incredible.
“This was an absolutely amazing experience,” Agassi said at the time. “When you first get over how high you are and start playing, it’s an absolute joy and it was a great time. I had no issues with the height as long as I didn’t have to bungee jump off the side.”
It undoubtedly produced some of the most iconic tennis pictures of all time – and Federer still gets asked about it.

Andre Agassi and Roger Federer played on the helipad of the Burj Al Arab

Image credit: Getty Images

Roger Federer and Andre Agassi on top of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai

Image credit: Getty Images

“It was amazing,” he said a few years later. “I didn’t know at the time that it was going to have such an impact.
“I had an idea of how we could make it better; we had a helicopter, which was going to film it all around, to really show what kind of a platform we were playing, instead of just having a picture taken of the hotel. It really shows how high up we are and I think that also made a difference.
“Ever since, everybody talks about it and I still hear stories about people saying, ‘OK, can we play tennis there?’. They are told: ‘we don’t have [a court]’, but they go: ‘No, no, I know you do’.”

Federer vs Nadal on water in Qatar

Federer and Nadal have twice faced each other on water in Qatar.
On the first occasion they were literally playing on the water as the court was partially submerged, meaning it was volleys only.
Then they hit on a small court on top of a dhow, which is the traditional sailing vessel of the region.
They also warmed up for the tournament in 2011 by playing each other on a 'flying' carpet.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal playing on a 'flying' carpet

Image credit: Getty Images

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal playing on a boat

Image credit: Getty Images

Djokovic vs Nadal in front of a glacier

Things got a little frosty last week when Nadal appeared to take a slight dig at Djokovic for his suggestions to help players in quarantine ahead of the Australian Open.
And the pair were also chilly when they met in front of the Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina in 2013.
The match was played on a ferry and was organised to promote tourism in the area.
Both did their promotional jobs on social media, with Nadal saying “I was just in one of the most spectacular places I have seen, the Perito Moreno, really have to visit” and Djokovic adding “I never thought I would find a place so wonderful, it was a fantastic experience”.

Federer vs Nadal in Battle of the Surfaces

Who could forget this one?
How to possibly decide who was really the better player out of grass-court king Federer and clay-court specialist Nadal? How about a court with grass on one side and clay on the other?
The event took place in Mallorca in 2007 on a court that cost $1.63million to create and took 19 days to prepare. Federer went into the match on a 48-match winning run on grass while Nadal had 72 straight wins on clay.
It was Nadal who prevailed though, winning 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(12–10) to delight most of those in attendance.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in action at the Battle of the Surfaces

Image credit: Getty Images

“I found the court to be excellent, especially the clay part,” said Federer afterwards.
The challenge was difficult, because you have many things in your head. You have problems to work out about how you are going to play on either side of the court. On the grass, I felt at the start that I was moving very well, although it took me a while longer to adapt to the clay.
Nadal said that both players would like to “repeat the experience”, but unfortunately it hasn’t happened yet.

Federer vs Nadal in Match in Africa

There was nothing whacky about the court when Federer and Nadal met in South Africa in February 2020, but they did play in front of a record crowd for a tennis match.
The Match in Africa charity event was watched by 51,954 people in Cape Town Stadium and more than $3m was raised on the evening.
Federer won the contest 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, having previously teamed up with Bill Gates to face Nadal and comedian Trevor Noah in a doubles exhibition, with Federer and Gates triumphing 6-3.

Spain's Rafael Nadal (L) plays a return to Switzerland's Roger Federer (R) during their tennis match at The Match in Africa at the Cape Town Stadium, in Cape Town on February 7, 2020. (Photo by RODGER BOSCH / AFP) (Photo by RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Imag

Image credit: Getty Images

“It was such a privilege to be here tonight,” said Federer, whose mother was born in South Africa.
“It was an absolute pleasure to share the court with Rafa again, but the first time here in beautiful Cape Town in South Africa means so much more. It really is very, very special on so many levels.”
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