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First At The French, Now At Wimbledon, Federer And Nadal Set Up Second Straight Slam Semifinal

Rafael Nadal of Spain in action against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France during their third round match at the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in London, Britain, 06 July 2019. EPA-EFE/WILL OLIVER EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO COMMERCIAL SALES

By Ricky Dimon

 

Arguably the most esteemed rivalry in tennis history ran into a bit of a lull from the summer of 2014 through 2018, when only one such match was played at the Grand Slam level. In 2019, however, Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal appears to be coming back with a vengeance.

 

Federer and Nadal will square off in a second consecutive slam semifinal after they won their respective quarterfinal matches at Wimbledon on Wednesday. Playing simultaneously on Centre Court and Court 1, respectively, Federer defeated Kei Nishikori 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 and Nadal rolled over Sam Querrey 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.

 

Having previously gone without a slam encounter since the 2017 Australian Open title match (won by Federer in five sets), the two all-time greats just collided in the French Open semis. On Nadal’s stomping grounds, the King of Clay cruised 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 on his eventual way to a 12th title at Roland Garros.

 

With that, he improved to 24-15 lifetime in the head-to-head series against Federer.

 

Now set for their 40th career contest, there are–of course–no secrets between two rivals who have combined for 38 major titles.

 

“You know everything about Rafa like I do, too,” Federer told the media following his victory over Nishikori. “I don’t think I really need to tell you what his strengths and weaknesses are. (He has) improved so much over the years on this surface. He’s playing also very different than he used to. (We) haven’t played each other in a long, long time on this surface. He’s serving way different. I remember back in the day how he used to serve, and now how much bigger he’s serving, how much faster he finishes points.

 

“It’s impressive to see how sort of healthy he’s stayed. A lot of them were saying, ‘Oh, it’s the end (for Nadal),’ by 2008. Similar to me in ’09. We’re still here. So it’s nice to play each other again.”

 

“Still here”? They are doing a lot more than that. Along with Novak Djokovic, they are still completely dominating. The “Big 3” have combined to win 10 consecutive slams and they have been overwhelming the competition throughout this fortnight at the All-England Club.

 

Djokovic and Nadal have dropped just one set apiece through five rounds, while Federer has dropped two. The Spaniard held off Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(3) in a predictably contentious second-round affair, but he otherwise cruised into “Federer-Nadal XL.”

 

“(I’m) excited to be back on this court against him after 11 years,” said Nadal, who last played–and beat–Federer at Wimbledon in arguably the greatest match ever, the 2008 final. “(It) means a lot for me and probably for him, too. (I’m), excited about this match, excited about this opportunity to be again against him. Always I say the same: of course, the opportunities to play against each other are less, but we (are still here) still here.”

 

They’re still here. And from the looks of it, they aren’t anywhere close to going away. That’s good news for the rivalry, and even better news for any and all fans of the game.

 

“I’ll be watching on Friday,” Querrey said after losing to Nadal.

 

He speaks for the entire tennis world.

 

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

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