Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer had little trouble winning their respective quarterfinal matches at the French Open on Tuesday, setting up another encounter between the two rivals in the semifinals.
Nadal reached his record 12th French Open semifinal by crushing Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.
Nadal Cruises, Federer Gets Past Wawrinka
The match was rarely competitive, with the only hint of drama coming in the third set, when a rain delay stopped play for more than an hour when Nadal was only two games away from closing out the match.
“I’m very satisfied,” Nadal said in an on-court interview following the match. “It’s incredible. Lots of emotions. To be back in the semifinals is something very, very important.”
Nadal has won the French Open every time he has previously reached the semis, giving him a record 11 titles at Roland Garros.
At almost the exact same time, Federer was facing a slightly more competitive match against fellow Swiss player Stan Wawrinka. But while every set was closely contested, Federer pulled through, winning 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 to get through to the semifinals.
While Federer generated more chances throughout the match, Wawrinka hung tough, saving 16 of 18 break points throughout the match. Federer’s second break only came at 4-4 in the fourth set, providing him with the breakthrough he needed to get by his countryman.
“There is no surprise anymore in what we are doing,” Wawrinka said after the loss. “It’s just about who’s gonna play the best in those important points, and he did that better than me today. He was a bit more aggressive in the right moment.”
Federer is Decided Underdog on Clay
Those two victories set up a match that fans had been hoping for since the French Open draw was announced. While there was little doubt that Nadal would make it to this stage, Federer’s progress was less certain: after all, he had not played at Roland Garros since 2015, and had not advanced to a semifinal there since 2012.
Both men come in playing excellent tennis, with each having dropped only a single-set thus far. Nadal has a 23-15 head-to-head edge over Federer in their careers, though Federer has won their last five encounters – six, if you count a walkover at Indian Wells earlier this season.
But Nadal has a large 13-2 edge on clay, and has won all five of their prior meetings at the French Open. That’s enough for the Spaniard to be considered a significant favorite heading into their upcoming match.
“My next opponent is pretty good. He knows how to play on clay, sadly,” Federer joked after beating Wawrinka. “What a pleasure, actually. If I decided to come back to play on clay, it was maybe to play Rafa.”
After his own quarterfinal triumph, Nadal made a point of saying he could not easily dismiss Federer, even on clay.
“I really expect him to play aggressive, change rhythms, come to the net,” Nadal said. “That’s my feeling. He’s playing well and he has the tennis to make that happen. I hope to put him in trouble. If not, I will be in trouble.”
While this is one of the more difficult semifinal matchups possible for Nadal, he is still expected to find a way to beat his old rival. Nadal is a -750 favorite to beat Federer (+540) at FanDuel Sportsbook. Nadal is also a -175 favorite to win the French Open, with Federer listed at +1700.