Here we are again, on the precipice of another great battle. We have been waiting since October 15, 2017, to see these two titans battle each other again. They teased us twice this year with the possibility of a match, only for injuries to take it from us. Finally, we are scheduled to get the next bout of Nadal vs Federer in the semi-finals of the 2019 French Open. This time though, I think all the pressure is on Nadal.
Five times these two have met at the French Open. All five times, Nadal has come out victorious. Federer, the all-time Grand Slam champion, will be up against this history when it comes time to play his nemesis. The expectations are off of Federer with such a lopsided record against Nadal at this tournament. With such a track record, it is up to Nadal to continue winning.
Furthermore, Nadal is on track to win his 12th French Open trophy by the end of the week. No one in the history of tennis has ever had such a great record at one tournament. This could put undue pressure on Nadal as he nears the finish line. We like to think that these competitors are above things like pressure, but they are human. If Nadal stops to think about the moment at all, Federer could find a chance to attack.
Nadal has breezed through most of his matches so far. While Nishikori has been to a final of a Grand Slam, he is not a former French Open Champion like Stan Wawrinka. That doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been competing. Nadal has torn through the competition like a pair of scissors through paper. Despite all that, he hasn’t really been pushed to his limits, which could cause him some issues when he has to lift his game versus someone like Federer or Djokovic.
Meanwhile, Federer has cruised through most of his competition as well. He was finally, but briefly, challenged by a former French Open Champion. Federer battled through Wawrinka, digging deep and find the kind of tennis he needed. Now he knows that he can raise his level if he needs to. The question will be can he raise his level enough against Nadal.
Federer is playing with house money right now. He hasn’t stepped foot on clay for a competitive match since 2015. He has stated that he is only playing this year because he wants to. He has nothing to lose going into this tournament.
That doesn’t mean that he’s going into the match with no desire to win. Since he hasn’t played on clay for a few years now, it means that he already has more ranking points than the last two years. Hopefully, he’ll be able to relax a little bit and not worry about winning, with playing well being his only focus. In the past confrontations, Federer has often gotten a great start and then been hit by the weight of his expectations because some record was always on the line. Now though, with no expectations other than to play well, it could allow him to play freer.
Figuring Out The Puzzle
Federer is also on a five-match win streak, although all of those wins have come on hard courts. Since Federer came back from his Injury in 2017, he hasn’t lost to Nadal. It seems as if he has figured out the puzzle to beating his arch-rival.
Things will be different on clay though. Clay suits Nadal’s game better than the hard courts do. Federer has been aggressive with his backhand on hard courts and that has given Nadal trouble. With clay, the ball will kick up higher to Fed’s backhand, which might give him trouble driving the ball. If he starts to slice too much, Nadal will be able to pick him off.
Hard to Bet Against Nadal
I’m a huge Federer fan, but it is hard to really see him coming through this match. Nadal is the King Of Clay for a reason. No matter how many things Federer has going his way, he still has the mountain of Nadal on clay to conquer. Still, the conditions are right for him to have a chance.
Who are you pulling for in the Semi-final match tomorrow?
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