Rafael Nadal on his penultimate clash vs. Roger Federer: 'It felt great'

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Rafael Nadal on his penultimate clash vs. Roger Federer: 'It felt great'

Roger Federer retired at the Laver Cup in September. The Swiss played his final match alongside his great rival Rafael Nadal, turning it into one of the most emotional nights in tennis history. Nadal and Federer played their last matches in 2019, embracing two duels at Roland Garros and Wimbledon and splitting wins.

Rafa faced Roger in Paris for the first time since the 2011 final and scored a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 triumph in two hours and 25 minutes in the semi-final. Thus, Nadal beat Federer for the tenth time in 14 duels at Majors and advanced into the 12th final at his beloved Major.

Rafa had lost the previous five matches against Roger, seeking his first victory over the Swiss since the Australian Open 2014. Nadal was determined to finally outplay a great rival and extend his Parisian dominance, securing the 92nd triumph from 94 matches at his favorite tournament!

Nadal hit 33 winners and 19 unforced errors, facing four break chances and getting broken twice. Roger needed much more than that to challenge the greatest clay courter in his first semi-final in Paris since 2012, firing 25 winners and 34 errors.

The Spaniard converted six out of 16 break opportunities to control the scoreboard. He defended superbly and found an open court from challenging positions to neutralize Roger's attacks and keep the Swiss outside his comfort zone.

The conditions were harsh and windy, especially in the first set, when they struggled to find the rhythm and impose their shots. Things improved from set number two, and Nadal took the upper hand from the closing stages, playing well on serve and return to leave Federer far behind.

Forging a 3-0 lead, Rafa lost the advantage in the middle of the opening set and scored another break at 3-2 when Roger's forehand landed in the net. The Spaniard wrapped up the set with a hold in game nine. Roger raised his level at the beginning of the second to forge a 2-0 lead and gain a boost.

Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer in the 2019 Roland Garros semi-final.

Federer wasted a game point at 2-0 and got broken after Nadal's forehand winner. The Spaniard had the momentum again and held after deuce in game eight for 4-4.

Rafa broke Roger in the next one from 40-0 down, taking five points in a row and clinching the pivotal break with a volley winner. Nadal held at love in game ten and moved two sets to love up after an hour and 45 minutes, determined to get the job done in the third.

Federer had nothing more left in the tank, unable to end Nadal's streak and find a way to impose his strokes and change the match's course. Rafa grabbed breaks in games three and five and sealed the deal with a hold at 5-2 for yet another final in his kingdom.

"It was great to face Federer at Roland Garros after that 2011 final, although I never felt obligated to win. Before the encounter, I was convinced that I was playing well and felt ready for the clash, stepping on the court with confidence, which always helps.

When someone is certain about his abilities, the pressure naturally fades away. Still, we must remember it was a very windy day that complicated the match. To beat Federer, you have to be at your maximum, which does not change," Rafael Nadal said.

Rafael Nadal Roger Federer Roland Garros