Nadal On Facing Federer: 'We Shared The Most Important Moments'
Don't get him wrong: Rafael Nadal is excited to again be facing Roger Federer at Roland Garros. The two will meet in the semi-finals on Friday in what will be their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting since 2017 Shanghai and their 39th matchup overall.
But what most excites the 11-time champion Nadal is that he's back into the last four again in Paris. Nadal was ruthless on Tuesday, beating Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 to make his 12th semi-final in Paris.
And although it seems like a guarantee in hindsight, the Spaniard had his clay-court struggles before the season's second Grand Slam major, not winning a title before the ATP Masters 1000 in Rome last month. Now, however, Nadal is back into the semi-finals and looking forward to facing his greatest rivals.
“Being honest, personally, for me, the main thing is being in the semi-final. The way that I have been playing has been very positive. I have been playing well, very solid. Winning good matches against tough opponents like today. I am happy with that,” Nadal said.
“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's another episode of this, and I'm happy for that and excited. It will be special moment, and let's try to be ready for it.”
Federer and Nadal have met five times at Roland Garros, including the 2005 semi-final. Nadal is 5-0 and has dropped only four sets in those matches. They've competed in the final four times, including 2006, '07, '08 and '11. On clay overall, the Spaniard has won 13 of their 15 matches.
Nadal, however, said every match against Federer is different and that he expects a new challenge in the semi-finals.
“We always try things. Let's see. Let's see what's going on. I really expect that he's going to play aggressive, changing rhythms, going to the net. That's my feeling, that he's going to try to play that way, because he's playing well and he has the tennis to make that happen,” Nadal said.
“I have to be solid. I have to hit the ball enough strong to not allow him to do the things from good positions. I need to let him play from difficult positions, so from there he's going to have fewer chances to go to the net or to play his aggressive game.
“If I am able to play good tennis and play well with my forehand and backhand, I hope to put him in trouble. If not, I will be in trouble.”
The two have not met on clay since the 2013 Internazionali BNL d'Italia final, and not at Roland Garros since the 2011 title match. Since June 2011, Nadal has won five more Roland Garros titles. He's now two wins away from his record-extending 12th title here. But first: Federer.
“It's is always a big match against him. The level of tennis that you need to play always is the highest. And I am playing well, but I need to play very well against him. So I hope to be ready to make that happen,” Nadal said. “What I will do is try to do my best, so that the victories I have won on this surface against him count for something. And he will do his utmost to make sure that his latest victories against me have their weight. And so we'll see.”
Federer has won their past five matchups, including four in 2017, all of which took place on hard court.
“It's really a particular match. We all know it,” Nadal said. “But in the end, it's just a tennis match. The best player will have the most chances of winning this match. It's a match between the best players in the world, indeed. But then the player who will be the closest, will have the most chances, will win.”