Nadal Amped For Federer Wimbledon SF Showdown
Rafael Nadal knows exactly what to expect when he and Roger Federer meet on Friday in the Wimbledon semi-finals, their 40th meeting and first at SW19 since their legendary 2008 final, which Nadal won 9-7 in the fifth set. The two have played three times at SW19, with Federer winning two of the three finals.
“[To] play against Roger always is a unique situation. Excited to be back on this court against him after 11 years. Means a lot for me and probably for him, too,” Nadal said.
“Excited about this match, excited about this opportunity to be again in that round against him. Always I say the same: of course, the opportunities to play against each other every time are less, but we are still here. After tomorrow we are going to have another chance.
“I just expect to play against probably the best player in the history of this surface and know that I have to play my best if I want to have chances to try to be in that final.”
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The Spaniard continued his merciless run through the Wimbledon draw on Wednesday, avenging his 2017 Acapulco final loss to American Sam Querrey 7-5, 6-2, 6-2. Nadal has lost only one set (second round, Kyrgios) and been broken only twice this fortnight. The left-hander was broken in the second set against Kyrgios and at 5-4 in the first set against Querrey.
Just as impressively has been Nadal's return game. He broke Querrey six times. The 6'6” American had been broken only once in 72 service games before their quarter-final.
“Today was a big, big challenge against a server like Sam... In general terms, I am very, very happy the way I am playing,” Nadal said.
All eyes in the tennis world will shift to Federer-Nadal XL come Friday. Nadal won their most recent contest in the Roland Garros semi-finals last month en route to his 12th Roland Garros title. But Federer has thrived in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry (Nadal leads 24-15) when they've played on quicker surfaces.
“Probably is better to have that [Roland Garros] victory than to have defeat, of course. But on the other hand, it's a completely different situation. [To] play on grass or play on clay is probably the biggest change in the world of tennis,” Nadal said. “I think the player who will have the chance to play better... will be the player who has more chances to be through. That's all. These kinds of matches are like this.”
Nadal's chances of returning to the Wimbledon semi-finals looked doubtful when he started his clay-court season by losing in the semi-finals of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. But the Spaniard quickly put his slow clay-court start behind him, and he hasn't lost since mid-May.
“In the world of sport, things change very quickly. You need to be always ready for changes in a negative way or a positive way. You need to accept both things with a calm and clear mind to understand what's going on later,” Nadal said.
“The last two months have been very positive for me personally, probably for Roger, too, because he played good [to make the] semi-finals in Roland Garros. He had the title in Halle. He's now in the semi-finals here again.
“That makes us keep playing because we still feel that we have chances to compete for the most important things. That's what really make us keep playing with this intensity.”