Roger Federer hopes to clinch another win against Rafael Nadal to advance to the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open.
© Eric M. Spohn
By Sandra Harwitt
In the tennis world their rivalry is one for the ages.
Yes, I’m speaking of Roger Federer, the spectacular Swiss, and Rafael Nadal, the sensational Spaniard. These two have brought their matches to the international scene on 30 occasions and now the Western & Southern Open fans will have their first opportunity to behold one of their battles in Friday night’s quarterfinal.
If you want to know how impressive these two guys are this marks the first time in history that two players with 29 Grand Slam titles between them will face off in a match. I’m impressed and I suspect readers are too.
So how do these two guys feel about their pending match on Friday? Here it is straight from them.
Roger Federer: "The year for him has been unbelievable, how he came back (from eight months of the tour in February) and how successful he’s played, almost always achieving finals. So it’s a great season for him. He’s coming into this tournament clearly very confident. I’ll be excited to see how he plays tonight. Then if I play him tomorrow, it’s clearly going to be a difficult match because he comes in with a lot of confidence again."
Rafael Nadal: "Always play against Roger is a special feeling. We have a great history behind us in our confrontations, so it's another quarterfinals. It's a special one because you're playing against a very special player. Our matches were very special always."
While Federer wins the competition between the two in Grand Slam titles won -- Federer has 17 and Nadal has 12, but Nadal captured one most recently when he claimed an eighth French Open victory in June. Federer also wins the number of titles won competition with 77 to 58 for Nadal, but Nadal’s won eight this year (including last week at the ATP Masters 1000 Montreal), while Federer’s only won the Halle trophy in 2013.
But let’s look more to their personal rivalry and take note that Nadal holds an impressive 20-10 lead heading into Friday’s match. And of a particular interesting note, the two are even at 6-6 when it comes to playing hard court matches. Nadal’s won 57 sets to 38 for Federer. They both are even at 10-10 in tiebreaks played against each other.
And there’s more ways to break down their rivalry so don’t worry the list has ended -- it hasn’t, at least not yet.
The two giants of this era of tennis have played 10 times at Grand Slam events with Nadal leading those meetings 8-2. The last time they met at a Grand Slam was in 2012 at the Australian Open -- Nadal won their semifinal in four sets.
Friday’s match marks the 16th time they’ve squared off in the prestigious ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments with Nadal again leading 11-4. The last time they met in an ATP Masters 1000 match was in the Rome final earlier this year with Nadal winning in two sets and only dropping four games in total.
As for their meetings by locale, they’ve played each other in 10 different countries. Here in the U.S. they’ve played at two tournaments in the past: in Miami three times and Indian Wells twice. They’ve also played in England five times, France five times, Monaco three times, Spain three times, Australia twice, China Twice, Germany twice, Italy twice, and the United Arab Emirates once. That’s a lot of travel, not to mention meetings.
This year the two have played twice with Nadal winning both times: the quarterfinals at the ATP Masters 1000 Indian Wells and in Rome.
So what’s going to happen on Friday. Well, of course, we won’t know that until the two legends in their own time get out on the Center Court and start knocking the ball around.
But here’s a tip to keep in mind. In their previous 30 matches, the guy who won the first set went on to win the match on 23 occasions. And that statistic can be enhanced to the guy who won the first set won the match in 17 of their last 19 outings.
I’m sure if you’re like me you can’t wait for the 31st staging of this tennis rivalry extraordinaire right here at the Western & Southern Open. See you there.
P.S. Are you wondering just how international the Western & Southern Open is in its scope? Here’s one way to answer that question. The only five guys to win a Grand Slam title since the 2005 French Open -- that’s 34 Grand Slams in a row -- are in Friday’s quarterfinals: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro.