"I didn't have many chances to beat Rafael Nadal last 3 years on clay; he is the measuring stick" - When Roger Federer spoke on potential Madrid final

Roger Federer (L) and Rafael Nadal (R)
Roger Federer (L) and Rafael Nadal (R)

Roger Federer once spoke highly of Rafael Nadal's unmatched prowess on clay as they remained on course for a potential showdown in the 2019 Madrid Open final.

After a first-round bye, Federer made a dominant start to his campaign at the Masters 1000 event in 2019, beating Richard Gasquet 6-2, 6-3 in his opening match.

As the fourth seed, the Swiss found himself on the opposite side of the draw from second seed Rafael Nadal, leaving the possibility of a blockbuster title clash between them.

Following his win over Gasquet, Roger Federer was asked whether he would like to face Nadal in the final. The Swiss replied in the affirmative, humorously remarking that he hadn't had enough chances to beat the Spaniard on clay in recent years, with their latest claycourt encounter taking place in the 2013 Italian Open final.

"Yeah, that means I'm in the finals. And I didn't have many chances to beat him the last three years on clay (laughing), so years go by quickly," he said in his post-match press conference.

The Swiss fondly revisited his 6-4, 6-4 win over Nadal in the 2009 Madrid Open final, conveying his eagerness for a rematch despite acknowledging the "tough challenge" it posed.

Federer also emphasized that if he was reluctant to face the Spaniard on clay, it would be futile to compete on the surface at all, deeming Nadal the "measuring stick" for all players.

"Sure I remember back to the finals here in Madrid as one of my good matches on clay, no doubt about it. I think he was pretty tired as well. I played solid. Yeah, of course, I would love to play on clay against him again, even though I know it's a tough challenge and all that," he said.
"But again it would be nice to have played him at the beginning of his the career on clay and also at the very end and see how it all plays out. And if I said I don't want to play him on clay, I think then I would have made a mistake to be on the clay in the first place because he is the measuring stick for all us players," he added.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal fell short of reaching the 2019 Madrid Open final

The Swiss (L) and Rafael Nadal
The Swiss (L) and Rafael Nadal

Despite Roger Federer's desire to square off against Rafael Nadal in the 2019 Madrid Open final, neither player managed to reach the title clash.

After beating Gael Monfils 6-0, 4-6, 7-6(3) in the third round, the Swiss suffered a narrow 3-6, 7-6 (11), 6-4 loss to Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals.

Nadal, meanwhile, reached the semifinals with straight-set wins over Felix Auger-Aliassime, Frances Tiafoe and Stan Wawrinka. Stefanos Tsitsipas ended the Spaniard's run in the semifinals, winning 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

Federer got the chance to face Nadal on clay a few weeks later, as the duo set up a blockbuster semifinal clash at the French Open. Nadal triumphed over the Swiss 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 en route his 12th Roland Garros title.

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