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2019 French Open, Men's singles semi-final
Philippe-Chatrier Court, Roland Garros
Roger Federer (Switzerland) vs Rafael Nadal (Spain)
Roger Federer will aim to make his return to the clay court the ultimate success when he takes on the king of the red stuff, Rafael Nadal, in the French Open semi-finals. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 8:50pm (AEST).
The pair have played 15 clay court matches over the year, and Federer has won just two of them. Maybe the greatest head-to-head rivalry of the modern era hasn’t been close for the most part on clay courts, and Nadal has dominated for more than a decade at Roland Garros.
It’s a match-up without equal, and one we have seen so many times before, but it’s going to take something special from Federer, who hasn’t played the clay court season for a number of years as he attempted to look after his body during the twilight of his career.
If he is going to get the better of Nadal, as he did during a tough four-set quarter-final against countryman Stan Wawrinka, he is going to need to get on the front foot and be aggressive. Whether that’s mixing up his style of play or just outright power, Federer needs to pull every trick out of the book just to win one set, let alone three of them.
The problem is that Nadal is a fantastic mover, and reads the game better than almost any player on tough. The extra time available to him on the slow clay courts give him a mountain of time to be able to position, defend, and then play the point exactly how he wants.
There is no option for Federer – he must find a way to unsettle and throw Nadal off that rhythm and monotonous grind from the back of the court.
As you’d expect from Nadal, he has played a staggeringly good tournament. There were questions over him in the lead-up, but he has dropped just a single set to David Goffin in the third round, and with a three-day break, will be fresh enough to play the exact game he wants.
Unfortunately, we may get some rain during the match, but that could suit Federer if he is able to have a break from the physicality, which Nadal will undoutbedly have on display again.
Federer has been in good touch, but it’s just impossible to not tip Nadal on clay. His record speaks for itself, and while he will probably drop a set due to the class of the Fed Express, it’ll be the Spaniard going to yet another Roland Garros final.
Nadal in four sets.
Be sure to join The Roar for live coverage of this first semi-final at the French Open from 8:50pm (AEST) and don’t forget to add a comment in the section below.
Start time: 8:50pm (AEST)
Venue: Philippe-Chatrier Court, Roland Garros, Paris, France
TV: Live, Fox Sports, SBS
Online: Live, Foxtel app, Foxtel now, Kayo sports
Betting: Nadal $1.11, Federer $6