The Ultimate Guide To The Rivalry Between Roger Federer And Rafael Nadal - UBITENNIS
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The Ultimate Guide To The Rivalry Between Roger Federer And Rafael Nadal

From head-to-head records to the opinion of former grand slam champions: Ubitennis previews the next chapter of one of the biggest rivalries in the sport.



Friday will mark the latest instalment of one of the most renowned rivalries in the history of men’s tennis.


At the French Open Roger Federer will take on Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals. It will be the 39th meeting between the two, who first played each other at the 2004 Miami Open. Making it the third-most matchups between two players in the Open Era on the ATP Tour. Overall, Nadal leads their head-to-head 23-15. However, the Spaniard has lost to his Swiss rival the past five times they have faced each other.

A more detailed analysis of the head-to-head favours Nadal at Roland Garros. He has triumphed in nine out of their 12 meetings in grand slam tournaments. Including the three previous times they have clashed in the semi-finals. More specifically, at the French Open, the world No.2 has triumphed in all five of their previous meetings. However, the only time he was able to do so in straight sets was during the 2008 final when he dropped only four games.

Year Tournament Series Surface Round Winner Score Length
  2005 France Roland Garros Major Clay Semifinals Nadal 6–3, 4–6, 6–4, 6–3 2:47
2006 France Roland Garros Major Clay Final Nadal 1–6, 6–1, 6–4, 7–6(7–4) 3:02
2006 United Kingdom Wimbledon Major Grass Final Federer 6–0, 7–6(7–5), 6–7(2–7), 6–3 2:58
2007 France Roland Garros Major Clay Final Nadal 6–3, 4–6, 6–3, 6–4 3:10
2007 United Kingdom Wimbledon Major Grass Final Federer 7–6(9–7), 4–6, 7–6(7–3), 2–6, 6–2 3:45
2008 France Roland Garros Major Clay Final Nadal 6–1, 6–3, 6–0 1:48
2008 United Kingdom Wimbledon Major Grass Final Nadal 6–4, 6–4, 6–7(5–7), 6–7(8–10), 9–7 4:48
2009 Australia Australian Open Major Hard Final Nadal 7–5, 3–6, 7–6(7–3), 3–6, 6–2 4:23
2011 France Roland Garros Major Clay Final Nadal 7–5, 7–6(7–3), 5–7, 6–1 3:40
2012 Australia Australian Open Major Hard Semifinals Nadal 6–7(5–7), 6–2, 7–6(7–5), 6–4 3:42
2014 Australia Australian Open Major Hard Semifinals Nadal 7–6(7–4), 6–3, 6–3 2:24
2017 Australia Australian Open Major Hard Final Federer 6–4, 3–6, 6–1, 3–6, 6–3 3:37

On the clay Nadal is even more dominant. He has defeated the Swiss Maestro in 13 out of their previous 15 meetings on the surface. Federer’s only triumph was at the 2007 Hamburg Open and 2009 Madrid Open.  However, Federer did take a long break from playing clay-court events that lasted a total of 1090 days (May 2016 to May 2019).

Despite his opponent’s dominance on the clay, Federer knows what it takes to down Nadal on the main stage. Doing so three times in a grand slam. Only Novak Djokovic has defeated Nadal more times in a major with six victories. On the other hand, Nadal has scored more wins over Federer in a major than any other player with nine victories alongside Djokovic.

Looking at their grand slam record overall, 20-time champion Federer has won 89 more main draw matches than his rival with 347 against 258. Although too much can’t be read into this statistic. 37-year-old Federer is four years older and made his debut in the majors at the 1999 French Open. Compared to Nadal, who started at the 2003 Wimbledon Championships. Overall, this year’s French Open is Federer’s 76th grand slam main draw and Nadal’s 56th.

Route to the semi-finals

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Both players have dropped one set on route to the last four. Nadal did so against David Goffin in the third round and Federer dropped a set in his quarter-final clash with Stan Wawrinka. Nadal has spent only 14 extra minutes on the court compared to his rival at 10 hours and 59 minutes. Dropping only 33 games compared to 61 for his opponent.

R1 d. Lorenzo Sonego 62 64 64
R2 d. (LL) Oscar Otte 64 63 64
R3 d. Casper Ruud 63 61 76(8)
R4 d. Leonardo Mayer 62 63 63
QF d. No. 24 Stan Wawrinka 76(4) 46 76(5) 64
Average ranking of opponent – 75*

R1 d. (Q) Yannick Hanfmann 62 61 63
R2 d. (Q) Yannick Maden 61 62 64
R3 d. No. 27 David Goffin 61 63 46 63
R4 d. Juan Ignacio Londero 62 63 63
QF d. No. 7 Kei Nishikori 61 61 63
Average ranking of opponent – 84*

*based on the ATP rankings for the week commencing 3rd June 2019

What have they said about each other?

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Federer will go into the match as the underdog given who he is taking on. Nevertheless, he is optimistic about coming out on top. Federer hasn’t won the French Open title since 2009 and it is the only major event he hasn’t won multiple times.

“Like against any player, there is always a chance. Otherwise nobody will be in the stadium to watch because everybody already knows the result in advance.” He said.
“Every match needs to be played before it’s decided. And that’s exactly what everybody believes when facing Rafa. They know it’s going to be tough. But you just never know. He might have a problem. He might be sick. You might be playing great or for some reason he’s struggling. Maybe there’s incredible wind, rain, 10 rain delays. You just don’t know.”

Meanwhile, Nadal has outlined the approach he intends to take. Vowing to be aggressive in order to dictate the rallies against his rival.

“There is no two matches the same. All the matches are different, because we always try things.” Nadal explained during his press conference on Wednesday.
“I really expect that he gonna plays aggressively, changing rhythms, going to the net. That’s my feeling, that he gonna try to play that way, because he’s playing well and he has the tennis to make that happen.’
“I have to be solid. I have to hit the ball enough strong to don’t allow him to do the things from good positions. I need to let him play from difficult positions, so from there he gonna have less chances to go to the net or to play his aggressive game.”

What the experts think

Three time grand slam champion Mats Wilander believes tactics will be important for Federer is the upcoming clash. The Swede believes it is essential to take the ‘rhythm’ away from Nadal if he wants to progress to the final.

“What is the right way or the wrong way, only Roger Federer knows. He said a couple of days ago that he speaks to his coaches and he likes to go with his “feel” – it’ll be so important when he decides correctly when to serve and volley for example, if he gets that right then he has a chance.” Said Wilander.
“With Rafa Nadal on the other side with his forehand he can hit good returns all the way from back there on a second serve, serve and volley from Roger. While I am excited about it, I hope Roger has an aggressive frame of mind and thinks that he is going to take every ounce of rhythm away from Rafa.”

Tennis legend Rod Laver believes drop shots will be key for Federer. Speaking to Eurosport on Thursday, Laver said the he will put himself in a good position due to the ‘element of surprise’ in his shot-making.

“I think he’ll get to the net, he’ll do a lot of drop shots because Rafa will be way back deep, and he may actually do a lot of short serves. I think the element of surprise will put Roger in a great position because he’s learnt his drop shot now, he’s even doing it on his second serve – I think it’ll be a good match.” Said Laver.
“When Roger gets to the net and volleys the ball he often doesn’t go into the open court as that allows them to run, and it’s the second ball if they get it back where he’ll go for the winners. Roger’s not necessarily trying to make the guy run, but it’s putting him off.”

Finally, former Nadal coach uncle Toni says the Spaniard must find a way to prevent Federer from attacking him during the upcoming match.

“Rafael must prevent Federer from attacking him all the time,” Toni told Spanish media earlier this week.
“Federer, with the age he is, I understand, will try to force a quick game in which there is not much exchange of punches.
“If Rafael agrees to the contrary, although I recognise that it is not easy to find weaknesses to one of the best players in history.”

The match will get underway at 12:50 local time on court Philippe Chatrier.


Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career



Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.


Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.


Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.


“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati



David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.


Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.

The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.

Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open  2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.

Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.

“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”



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Madison Keys battles past Simona Halep to reach the quarter final in Cincinnati



Madison Keys beat this year’s Wimbledon champion Simona Halep 6-1 3-6 7-5 to advance to the quarter final at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati for the second consecutive year.


Madison Keys stopped a five-match losing streak against Simona Halep after a thrilling three-set match scoring her first win over the Romanian player in five years.

After beating Halep in their first head-to-head match in 2014, Keys lost five consecutive matches against her Romanian rival, including four in 2016. They met for the first time since the 2016 WTA Finals, where Halep beat Keys 6-2 6-4 in a round-robin match.

Keys never faced a break point and dropped just eight points in four service games and reeled off nine of the eleven points on Halep’s first serve to cruise through to a 6-1 win in 20 minutes.

In the second set Halep dropped her serve twice, but she converted three of the ten break points. The Romanian player held her serve at love for the first time in the match to win the second set sending the match to the third set.

Keys went up a 3-0 lead in the decider and earned four break points for 4-0. Halep converted her fifth break points at deuce and held serve at love to draw level to 3-3. Keys did not convert a match point at 5-4, but she sealed the win by breaking serve with a forehand winner in the 12th game at deuce to the delight of the home crowd.

“I think I played really smart tonight. Obviously I played a really good first set, and I don’t think she played her best tennis in the first set. I think the third set we played a pretty high level of tennis. I think it was the first time that I played a little bit more within myself and didn’t try to do too much too soon. She has been number 1 for a reason, won Grand Slams for a reason. I knew that she wasn’t just going to give up or give in. I knew the entire time I had to fully win the match before I could take a deep breath. I am really happy after losing my lead in the third set, I was able to get back. It definitely reminds me that when I am in the right mindset and playing some good tennis, I can compete with anyone”, said Keys.

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