Zurich, 22 December 2010 | AAP

Roger Federer has beaten Rafael Nadal 4-6 6-3 6-3 to open a two-match exhibition series between the world’s best two tennis players.

Federer sealed victory on Nadal’s serve with a sublime backhand cross-court return winner in front of 10,000 spectators at the sold-out Hallenstadion indoor arena.

It was the first time they have played each other in Federer’s native Switzerland.

Tuesday’s match raised money for the Roger Federer Foundation which backs educational work with children in Africa.

The friendly rivals travel to Madrid on Wednesday for a return match in Nadal’s home country in support of the Rafael Nadal Foundation.