The classic clay showdown
"Because it is a big challenge. And Nadal is the best I've ever met," that's 37-year-old Roger Federer's take on the mouthwatering French Open semi-final against one of his greatest rivals, Rafael Nadal, on Friday. It's a fascinating match-up as the world can't wait to watch one of the greatest rivalries in modern sport. The Swiss superstar has won the last six matches against his iconic Spanish rival. But the defending champion has beaten Federer 13 times out of 15 on clay — including all five times at the French Open. Federer and Nadal will meet for the 39th time after both overcame thunderstorms and their opponents Stanislas Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori respectively. Federer goes into the match as the massive underdog, given Nadal's incredible record at Roland Garros. He will need another level, or two, against left-hander Rafa whose vicious topspin game has given him mastery over Federer at Roland Garros where he has never even been taken to five sets by the Swiss giant. He is relishing the challenge though, having not played Nadal at the French Open since 2011 when he lost in four sets. "I'm looking forward to the test," he says. "You have to be fearless to some extent to take on the spinny balls, the sliding balls, the kicking balls, and that's what I will do on Friday." Rafael Nadal, who is chasing a new Grand Slam record of a 12th French Open title, said: "Being honest, personally, for me, the main thing is being in the semi-final…Of course after having Roger in front in the semi-finals is an extra thing. We shared the most important moments of our careers together on court facing each other. So is another episode of this, and happy for that and excited, no? It will be special moment, and let's try to be ready for it."
Nothing is edgier than the Federer-Nadal rivalry. They have their contrasting styles and techniques, their changing rhythms, their very own fanatic fan bases, their moods and methods, their ups and downs, their injuries and recoveries and their unforgettable memories. Federer still sits at one French Open title, while possessing 19 Grand Slam titles from the other three combined. Of course, he doesn't need another trophy to cement his legacy but just as the world is waiting to watch them in another semi-final clash even the two players must be equally excited about it as it would be a great contest, a true test of patience and perseverance, of sheer grit and determination because the stakes are high, really very high to let go. Vamos hombre!