'The older Rafael Nadal is, the more...', says former No.1

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'The older Rafael Nadal is, the more...', says former No.1

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal met in the final of the 2017 Shanghai Masters. Roger defeated his great rival and world number 1 6-4 6-3 in 72 minutes to lift the trophy and leave Rafa with his hands empty. The Swiss was 36 years and two months old, and is the oldest player in the Open Era with a victory over the world No.

1. Nadal will try to take that record away from him, and he came close after his win over Novak Djokovic in the Roland Garros quarterfinals. Nadal took down the world No. 1 a couple of days before his 36th birthday to earn a spot in the semi-finals.

Rafa beat Novak 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 in four hours and 12 minutes on court Philippe-Chatrier and unseated the Serb for the 29th time in 59 games. Despite the cold, heaviness and slowness of the Philippe-Chatrier court, Nadal got the best of it to beat Djokovic after another marathon.

Novak recovered in the second set and went all out for Rafa in the fourth, only to lose set points and fall in the tie break. Rafa made the difference with his second serve, keeping him safe and dominating Novak in key moments.

Nadal saved eight of 12 break chances and converted 43% of return points in seven breaks from 17 chances to bring home the victory. The Spaniard dictated the pace with 57 winners and 43 unforced errors, leaving the Serb in a 48-53 ratio.

Unlike 12 months ago, Rafa had a huge advantage in the shorter range up to four shots.

Mats Wilander on Rafa Nadal

Former World No. 1 Mats Wilander has praised Rafael Nadal for the changes he has made to his game over the years.

"His tennis is much more entertaining than Djokovic's and Federer's. The older he is, the more I enjoy watching him play. We see that he trusts his variations more than when he used to at 22 or 23 years old," Wilander said.

The Swede also compared Federer's game to Nadal's and analysed how they've evolved over the years. "With Roger, everything seems easy. It's simple and aesthetic. Rafa is different: his true personality arises when the racquet hits the ball.

Of course, the beginning and the end of the motion are not as fluid as with Roger," Wilander said, adding, "But the contact with the ball is so pure, his touch on the ball is so extraordinary that I am always blown away."