'Special and unique'
World No. 2 Rafael Nadal delighted after his 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 semi-final win over 'biggest rival' Roger Federer in windy conditions at Roland Garros
Defending champion Rafael Nadal powered past Roger Federer in the French Open semi-finals yesterday, to move within one victory of a record-extending 12th Roland Garros title after handing his "biggest rival" his worst Grand Slam defeat in 11 years.
Nadal, 33, produced a masterful performance to get past Federer 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in the last four on Court Philippe Chatrier and set up a final clash with either World No. 1 Novak Djokovic or Austrian fourth seed Dominic Thiem on Sunday. It will be Nadal's 12th appearance in the championship match, which he has never lost before. "In front [of me was] probably my biggest rival in my career with all the story that we shared together," said Nadal.
"So that always makes the match a little bit more special and unique." The third seed now has an stunning 92-2 win-loss record on the Paris clay, having beaten Federer for the sixth time in as many French Open meetings despite difficult, windy conditions.
Difficult to control
"This court can be windy, can be difficult," added Nadal. "Today was a little bit too much. So difficult to control the situation and understand the things that were going on on court." Nadal also leads his overall head-to-head against Federer 24-15, and 14-2 on clay after ending a run of five straights losses to Federer. He could also move to within two of Federer on the all-time Grand Slam title winners' list with an 18th major on Sunday.
A tally of just nine games meant it was Federer's heaviest defeat in a Grand Slam match since managing only four against Nadal in their famously one-sided 2008 Roland Garros final. Nadal made only 19 unforced errors, crushing 33 winners as Federer struck 25. The defeat leaves Federer still waiting for a first victory over Nadal on clay since 10 years ago in Madrid.
Roger hints 2020 return
"Next year, just like with any other tournament, we'll see what happens," said Federer, who returned to Roland Garros this year for the for the first time since 2015. "But I definitely enjoyed the clay court season and the French Open, so that would help the chances, I guess, to return."
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