Roland Garros 2019 men's semifinal: Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal, preview and prediction
The two greatest players in modern tennis, each aspiring to be the best ever of all time, will lock horns in the semi-finals of the 2019 Roland Garros.
A lot has been written about their storied rivalry over the last decade and a half. There have been so many classics played out between the two over the years that it's tough to keep count. And yet here we are – with another in the offing.
Though Rafael Nadal has a commanding 23-15 head-to-head record over Roger Federer, it is the Swiss who has won their last five encounters on the trot, which has helped make the head-to-head record a little less one-sided in recent times. However, one must be quick to add the caveat that none of those five matches have been on clay.
This last bit of information is extremely crucial in any analysis, pre- or post-match, between the two. That's because the major reason why the head-to-head record looks so lop-sided in favour of the Spaniard is that 15 of their matches have been played on clay, a surface where Nadal is the undisputed king.
Federer is not actually a bad player on clay. In fact, he is good; quite good really. Just like so many of his peers who have had the misfortune of being overshadowed, their big career title prospects greatly diminished by his very presence, a valid argument can be made that the Swiss great too has had the misfortune of his career coinciding with that of Nadal.
The Spaniard has clearly had an adverse impact on Federer's relative lack of success on clay, especially at the French Open, where the Swiss has managed to win only one title. And even that one title came about when Nadal was taken down by somebody else (Robin Soderling), so that Federer did not have to face the king.
Unfortunately for Federer, his semifinal opponent this time is that man again. Nadal is carrying forward the confidence he gained from his Rome Masters title and has looked his usual peak self at Paris so far. His straight sets demolition act over Kei Nishikori in the quarterfinal must have served notice to everyone that he is ready to make yet another unstoppable run to the title.
Undoubtedly, Federer has looked good too. Against a quality opponent like Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinal, he showcased some of his best tennis thus far. He may have lost a set, but he produced some vintage signature shots at regular intervals that left the audience gasping.
He dominated much of the match against his compatriot, as is evident by the number of break point opportunities he created. But he would also rue the fact that he missed converting all of them, barring just two.
Againt his great rival Nadal, he will not only need to play his best tennis to have a shot, but also be much more efficient with the opportunities that come his way. But the way Nadal has played this far, and considering his previous successes against Federer, a not-too-difficult win for the King of Clay seems on the anvil.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in four sets.