Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal (R) faced Roger Federer four times in 2017, all of which were losing efforts. Pictured: Roger Federer of Switzerland with Rafael Nadal of Spain pose with their trophies after the Men's singles final match on day eight of 2017 ATP Shanghai Rolex Masters at Qizhong Stadium in Shanghai, China, Oct. 15, 2017. Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal is hoping to face Roger Federer this year and continue one of the biggest rivalries in sports.

Nadal and Federer's rivalry is arguably the biggest one in tennis with the Spaniard currently leading the head-to-head record with 23 wins in their 38 meetings since 2004.

However, the last five meetings between the tennis legends have seen victories for Federer with four of them coming last year when the duo experienced career resurgences.

Nadal lost to Federer in the final of the Australian Open in a five-set thriller before suffering a round of 16 loss to the Swiss ace at the BNP Paribas Open. The 31-year-old met him twice more in finals but lost again at the Miami Open and the Shanghai Masters.

At this point last year, they both faced each other three times, however, they are yet to clash in 2018, mostly due to Nadal's injury problems and Federer skipping the clay-court season for the second year in a row.

However, despite his recent losing record against the 20-time Grand Slam champion, Nadal still wants to face him and given their current ranks as the top two best players in the world, a meeting will only happen in a final should they take part in the same event.

"Well, of course [I want to play Federer this year]. It would mean to face each other in a final because now we are the top-ranked players of the world — so I hope it happens soon," Nadal said, as per Tennis World USA. "I think it has been a good rivalry that will stay in the tennis history."

"Between us, there has always been sportsmanship. Playing against Federer always gave me a particular, good feeling. And without any doubt a challenge between two game styles. But I would also like to add that I didn't only have one rivalry. You speak a lot about me and him, however, I think it would be unfair not to consider also [Novak] Djokovic, who is one of the best players ever. We had unbelievable matches."

Nadal has a slight losing record against Djokovic with the latter currently leading 26-25 though he has lost his last two meetings against the 16-time Grand Slam champion, the most recent of which was an encouraging display in the Rome Masters last week. Nadal could make it three in a row as a potential meeting with Djokovic could happen in the final of the French Open following Thursday's draw.

When asked if Federer was his friend, Nadal replied that he prefers to think of him as well as Djokovic and Andy Murray as his "good mates."

"The word 'friend' for me is important," Nadal explained. "We can't call everyone as 'friend', my friends are the people who I have been knowing for many years and that is in your everyday life. With Federer, I had a very good relationship: we are good mates. We congratulate each other when one of us win something important. It's the same relationship I have with Novak and Andy (Murray)."