In an eagerly awaited semi final clash, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will face off at the French Open for the first time since 2011. It was a four set win for Nadal on that occasion as he sealed the sixth of his 11 titles. Federer’s run of five wins on hard courts has made the head to head look a little more welcoming but he is still way behind at 15-23 going into edition 39 of one of the greatest rivalries in tennis. Check out the Federer vs Nadal H2H stats
Nadal was in imperious form on Tuesday, taking apart Kei Nishikori in under 2 hours. The Japanese star was up against it after back to back five setters and Nadal made him pay early and often. An early break set the tone for the rest of the match as he struck 29 winners on his way to a 6-1 6-1 6-3 victory. Winning Rome does look to have been the spark for Nadal who had been disappointing by his extraordinarily high standards for much of the year. “The way that I have been playing has been very positive,” said Nadal. “I have been playing well, very solid. Winning good matches against tough opponents, like today. I am happy with that.
While likely not at the level of Nadal and Djokovic, Federer has shown he is still a force to be reckoned with for most of the tour on clay – especially in the best of five format. He finally lost a set in the quarter finals, eventually coming out on top in four sets in a heavy hitting clash against Stanislas Wawrinka, 7-6 4-6 7-6 6-4. The turning point was midway through the third set, when Federer broke back immediately after dropping his own serve before eventually winning the third set tiebreak. Federer’s notorious wastefulness on break points continued in this match as he converted just 2 of 18 break points overall.
However, he is very pleased overall with his fortnight so far. “I’m very happy, number one, to be back in another semi-finals of a Grand Slam. It hasn’t happened in the past year or so. I had some tough losses in fourth rounds or quarters. So from that standpoint, I exceeded my expectations here, after missing the French for so many years, it’s nice to be back in the semis, so that’s a great feeling.” Federer said. It’s his first time in the semis since 2012, with two quarter finals and a fourth round exit in the tournaments he did compete in before his break.
“Of course, after having Roger in front in the semi-finals is an extra thing. We shared the most important moments of our careers together on court, facing each other. So [it’ll] be another episode, and [I’m] happy for that and excited. It will be [a] special moment, and let’s try to be ready for it.” Rafa commented. The bookmakers have Nadal as a very heavy favourite for this one, suggesting it will not be much of a contest. Already 13-2 against Federer on clay, he will likely show the distance between he – and possibly Novak Djokovic – is from the rest of the tour.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in four sets