Rafael Nadal will meet Roger Federer (Picture: Getty Images)Rafael Nadal will take on Roger Federer for the 39th time in his career as he bids to reach a 12th French Open final.
The 11-time champion has never lost at this stage or beyond at Roland Garros, winning all 22 of his previous appearances in semi-finals and finals, while he has never been beaten by his great Swiss rival on the clay courts of Paris.
Nadal, who had earlier defeated Kei Nishikori in straight sets, turned 33 yesterday but Federer at 37 is the second oldest semi-finalist in the Open Era.
The Swiss has won his last five meetings with the Spaniard but none of those have been on the King of Clay’s favoured surface and he will enter the contest as the heavy favourite given he has defeated the world No. 3 here on five separate occasions.
Roger Federer beat Stan Wawrinka (Picture: Getty Images)But despite his 100% record against Federer on the Parisian crushed brick, Nadal insists he will have to up his level to maintain that streak.
‘Being honest, personally, for me, the main thing is being in the semi-final,’ he said after beating Nishikori 6-1 6-1 6-3. ‘The way that I have been playing have been, being honest, very positive. I have been playing well, very solid. Winning good matches against tough opponents like today. I am happy with that.
‘Of course after having Roger in front in the semifinals 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 happy for that and excited, no? Will be special moment, and let’s try to be ready for it.
‘It’s always a big match against him. You know, 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.’
Federer had not competed at Roland Garros since 2015 prior to his return this year. Back then, his run was ended by Stan Wawrinka, the man he beat in four sets in Tuesday’s quarter-finals.
Nadal is ready to face his great rival (Picture; Getty Images)His clay-court comeback has been much documented and Federer previously admitted he would like to truly test himself against Nadal during the swing.
He will get an opportunity to do just that later this week but Nadal reflected on why he felt Federer had returned to compete on the dirt, having skipped the swing for the past few years.
‘He came back on clay because he’s a player who is comprehensive, who plays well on all surfaces,’ Nadal added. ‘And on clay he has good chances of winning.
‘One thing is that he feels physically ready. He’s coming back because he wants to do so. And if he feels in good shape physically, well, he should not leave out a main part of the season. That’s his main reason.
‘It’s going to be a very special match for him, for me, and so it’s always been special matches. But here it’s going to be even more specific, more particular, an important match, indeed.
‘He will be ready to give his best, and I will be there, too.’