Of his 58 victories in 2019, Rafael Nadal scored one of the favorites in the Roland Garros semi-final against Roger Federer. Rafa claimed the tenth victory in their 14 Major encounters, beating Roger 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in two hours and 25 minutes and advancing into the 12th final in Paris.
Losing the previous five meetings against Roger and seeking the 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 the favorite tournament!
Nadal hit 33 winners and 19 unforced errors, facing four break chances and getting broken only twice to mount the pressure on the other side. 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, defending superbly and finding an open court from challenging positions to neutralize Roger's attacks and keep the Swiss outside the comfort zone as much as possible.
The conditions were harsh and windy, especially in the first set, where they both struggled to find the rhythm and impose their shots. Things improved from set number two, and it was Nadal who took the upper hand from the closing stages, playing well on both serve and return to leave Roger far behind and advance into the second final in a row after conquering the title in Rome a few weeks earlier.
Opening a 3-0 lead, Rafa lost the advantage in the middle of the opening set before scoring another break at 3-2 when Roger's forehand landed in the net. The Spaniard completed the opener with a hold in game nine before Roger raised the level at the beginning of the second set to forge a 2-0 lead.
Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer in the 2019 Roland Garros semi-final.
Wasting a game point, Federer got broken in game three after a forehand winner from Nadal, who had the momentum again and held after deuce in game eight.
Rafa broke Roger in the next game from 40-0 down, taking five points in a row and clinching the pivotal break with a volley winner that proved to be the crucial moment of the entire encounter. Holding at love in game ten, Nadal moved two sets to love up after an hour and 45 minutes, determined to get the job done in the third set.
Federer had nothing more left in the tank, unable to end Nadal's streak and find the way of imposing his strokes and changing the match's course. Nadal broke in games three and five and sealed the deal with a hold at 5-2 for yet another final in his kingdom, where he faced Dominic Thiem.
"It was great to face Federer at Roland Garros after that 2011 final, although I never felt the obligation 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 had to remember it was a very windy day that complicated the match very much. Anyway, to beat Federer, you have to be at your maximum, and that doesn't change," Rafael Nadal said.