French Open 2019: The important stats you should know before the Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal clash
As we had gently stepped into 2019 and gradually progressed towards the clay court season, many speculative eyes wondered whether a certain Swiss gentleman would get his shoes dirty on them.
Barely two months shy of turning 38, Roger Federer put a halt to all such questionings when he announced his participation in the clay court tournaments in the run-up to the second Grand Slam of the year, the French Open.
Truth be told, few could have thought that Federer will ever come back again to grace the courts of Roland Garros let alone make it to the semis and sign up for a mouth-watering clash against arch-nemesis Rafael Nadal.
Showcasing a brave form, Federer breezed through most of the tournament after surviving a small threat from fellow Swissman Stan Wawrinka in the quarters.
Countless fans held their breath as Federer rushed to the net to hit a menacing forehand return and sealed the match.
With that one shot, Federer urged open the books of history again as he set up a date with his most formidable rival, Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals of a tournament the latter has won 11 times.
The odds are staggeringly in favor of the 33-year old-Spaniard who has humbled the Swiss in every five of their meetings at Roland Garros.
When it comes to the French Open, nobody can boast of better statistics than the King of Clay who has only lost twice on the Parisian clay.
With a 91-2 win-loss record in French Open matches, Nadal is an unfamiliar customer at the loser's end. The biggest challenge Roger Federer could have possibly unwantingly asked for is here before him.
A very aggressive Robin Soderling in 2009 and a fiesty Novak Djokovic in 2015 have only been able to tame Rafa at Roland Garros, but does Federer have it in him to become the third player in the history of the French Open to upset Nadal?
It's definitely premature to answer these questions but before the duo meet for the 39th time out of which Nadal has won 23 times and Federer sits complacent at 15, we need to look at some statistics that balance the probable future of the semi final clash.
Ever since 2015, both Federer and Nadal have enjoyed a mixed phase in their careers. While Nadal retained his form on clay, Federer succumbed to an injury interlude of six months in 2016 and stayed away from the red brick dust surface entirely for three years.
It has been a decade since the Swiss Maestro lifted his lone French Open trophy and it's remarkable in itself, to see him scripting a comeback at 37 years of age.
To say entirely that Federer does not stand a chance against Nadal will be a gross mistake given the recent meetings of the two albeit on hard court surfaces.
It has been an impatiently long wait for the two to meet again. Before going into the match, the only statistic that Federer should focus upon is the fact that he has won at least the last 5 meetings they have had.
Aside from the walkover at the 2019 Indian Wells, Roger Federer has successfully humbled Nadal on five consecutive occasions. The curious fact is that the former World No.1 has remained unbeaten against his arch-nemesis since 2015.
There are many things that need to be assessed before assuming who has the better chance.
When Federer came back in 2017, his game style had changed considerably. He plays with a racquet that has a bigger head, his backhand has developed from an unreliable strength to a powerful weapon.
Nadal, in their last meeting at the 2017 Shanghai Masters suffered a straight set loss (6-4, 6-3) which was preceded by another easy match in the 2017 Miami Masters ( Federer won in 6-3, 6-4).
In the 2017 Indian Wells too, Federer had his way comfortably in 6-2, 6-3. The thrilling 2017 Australian Open only proved to be a really sensational match.
Memorably the 20 time Grand Slam Champion had said after the five-setter match, "Tennis is a tough sport. There are no draws. But if there was gonna be one, I would have been very happy to accept a draw and share it tonight with Rafa, really," in the presentation ceremony.
However keeping all these aside, there is no shying from the fact that Nadal has the better edge over Roger on clay surfaces. The undisputed King of Clay has won 13 out of the 15 clay court encounters the duo have had.
Right from 2005 to 2011, Federer and Nadal have met five times at French Open and on most occassions the current World No.3 has suffered a loss in four sets.
In 2011, Nadal defeated Federer in 7-5, 7-6 (7/3), 5-7, 6-1 and that has been the last time that Roland Garros has seen the two legends square off against each other.
On Friday, when two greatest players of all-time step onto Court Philippe Chatrier, there will be history patiently waiting to unravel itself.
It's no strange fact that Federer, in his new form, has managed to keep Nadal at bay. Meeting on the Spaniard's favored surface where he has 58 titles, Federer will have a difficult task on his hands.
The Swiss great is ready to take his chances admittedly and pull off a shock defeat and extend his new found dominance over Nadal by getting a sixth win in a row. Meanwhile, all we can do is steel our nerves and get ready for an epic battle on the red dust.
Here is a listicle of the important facts:
Number of Grand Slams- Nadal has 11 French Opens, 3 US Opens, 2 Wimbledons, 1 Australian Open; Federer has 8 Wimbledons, 6 Australian Opens, 5 US Opens, 1 French Open
French Open encounters- 05 ( 2011 final, 2008 final, 2007 final, 2006 final, 2005 semifinals)
Win-Loss History at French Open- Nadal has won every encounter at Roland Garros
Clay Court Results- Nadal leads with 13 wins while Federer has won only 2. (Last clay court meeting was in 2013)
Last 5 encounters- 2017 Australian Open, 2017 Indian Wells, 2017 Miami Open, 2017 Shanghai Masters, 2019 Indian Wells ( walkover )
Win-Loss History of Last 5 matches- Federer has won all five.