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Nadal Ends Federer’s French Open • It Was A Classic Clay-Court Performance In Heavy /Windy Conditions

Rafael Nadal of Spain (L) plays Roger Federer of Switzerland during their men?s semi final match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 07 June 2019. EPA-EFE/JULIEN DE ROSA
Rafael Nadal of Spain (L) plays Roger Federer of Switzerland during their men’s semi final match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 07 June 2019. EPA-EFE/JULIEN DE ROSA

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

It took a lot to end Roger Federer’s successful return to clay in 2019.

 

Question: What’s a lot? Answer: Rafael Nadal.

 

Roger Federer of Switzerland plays Rafael Nadal of Spain during their men?s semi final match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 07 June 2019. EPA-EFE/SRDJAN SUKIFederer threw everything he had at Nadal for two entertaining sets before the King of Clay raced away to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory in the French Open semifinals on Friday afternoon. After two hours and 25 minutes of play in howling winds, Nadal set up a showdown against either Novak Djokovic or Dominic Thiem on championship Sunday.

 

“Being in (the) final of Roland Garros again means a lot again, and especially coming back from not an easy situation for all the injuries that I had,” said the 11-time champion, who suffered a knee injury in Indian Wells and missed Miami. “Being able to recover the level that I had the last couple of weeks is something that I am very proud of.”

 

Nadal had no trouble making it back to his 12th title match in Paris. He has dropped only one set through six matches, although Federer at least managed to be competitive for a while. The 37-year-old Swiss broke serve once in both the first and second sets but failed to consolidate on either occasion.

 

What proved to be Federer’s last gasp came when he dropped serve from 40-0 up at 4-4 in the second. It was all Nadal the rest of the way.

 

Rafael Nadal of Spain plays Roger Federer of Switzerland during their men?s semi final match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 07 June 2019. EPA-EFE/JULIEN DE ROSA“I think the beginning of the match [was not] the perfect level for both of us,” Nadal reflected. “But after five, six games, the match I think became a match with a good level of tennis, no? [There were] some great points.

 

“Being honest, with that conditions out there, (to) play the way that we played [was a great level of tennis because the conditions [were] so tough.”

 

The wind combined with the most accomplished clay-court player in tennis history made it even tougher for Federer. He was broken six times, committed 34 unforced errors to Nadal’s 19, and won only 17 of 35 net approaches. Nadal finished plus-15 in his winners-to-errors ratio, an especially impressive number given the obvious difficulties in this match.

 

“I think he does that to anybody on the clay,” Federer said of being unable to control the match against his formidable foe. “He makes you feel uncomfortable the way he defends the court and plays on clay.

 

“There is nobody who even plays remotely close to him. I don’t even know who I need to go search for to go practice with somebody who plays like him. I was thinking that during the match. It’s just amazing how he plays from deep and then is able to bounce back and forth from the baseline.”

 

How’s this for amazing? The 33-year-old Spaniard is now 92-2 lifetime at the French Open.

 

Will Djokovic or Thiem be able to prevent match win No. 93 and title No. 12? Only time will know. But we know that if neither the conditions nor Federer could bring Nadal down, it’s not going to be easy.

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

 

Editor’s Note  • Rafa yes, Rafael Nadal is a “righty.” Watch Rafa autograph something. It’s signed with a sharpie in his right hand. Uncle Toni put the racket in his left hand. He knew what a huge advantage it is. Especially serving into the ad court. RAFA’s stroke also produces crazy spins. Rafa hits a HEAVY Hard ball. He can BLAST thru the wind.

Roger is best in calm conditions. His light touch and feel can’t handle conditions like today’s.

Rafa Nadal is the KING of Clay there’s no denying. But Roger played a great clay season. 

We hope it doesn’t detract from his Wimbledon. (LJ)

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