A long awaited semi-final between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer edges closer with the Spaniard just one match away from a potential matchup with his rival. Nadal must first beat Kei Nishikori to get there, taking on the Japanese star for the 13th time. He is 10-2 against Nishikori, with a 4-0 record on clay matches.
As expected, it was fairly straight forward for Nadal in his previous round against Juan Ignacio Londero. The Argentinian, playing in his first grand slam, was outclassed from the start in the the 6-2 6-3 6-3 victory for the defending champion. “A very difficult day. Very windy out there. So it was not easy to find the feelings. But with those conditions, I think I did a lot of things well,” Nadal said. “Playing a solid match against that player, being honest, he’s good. He’s very intense, with good shots from the baseline, very aggressive. It was a positive victory for me.”
Nishikori completed his marathon match against Benoit Paire on Monday, finally coming out on top 6-2 6-7 6-2 6-7 7-5 against the Frenchman. Having twice had match points on serve in the fourth set tiebreak, he will have been disappointed to have been taken five but he showed great resolve to eventually come through, twice being a break down in the decider.
Playing Nadal on clay is almost an impossible ask at the best of times but Nishikori’s preparation is from an ideal for the lengthy shift he would need to put in for the remotest chance of victory. Back to back 5 set matches leave him in an even worse position coming into this match and Nadal should be able to pick him off at ease, if Nishikori’s body does manage to hold up for the entire match.
“What’s happened here is something really unbelievable. I don’t know what can happen in the future or not. I am trying my best to compete well and to give [myself] a chance to be where I am today,” Nadal added. He remains in prime position to take number 12 with just 8 men left in the draw.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in straight sets