Roger Federer

Rafael Nadal sweeps Roger Federer, reaches French Open final

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Rafael Nadal‘s first match with Roger Federer at the French Open in eight years finished just like all the others: a Nadal victory to extend his dominance on the Roland Garros red clay.

Nadal, eyeing a 12th French Open title, swept Federer 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to reach Sunday’s final (9 a.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app). He will play No. 1 Novak Djokovic or No. 4 Dominic Thiem. Thiem led Djokovic 6-2, 3-6, 3-1 before forecasted rain stopped play for the day. Their match will resume Saturday (6 a.m. ET, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Nadal broke Federer in the Swiss’ first service game and six times total for the match. He’s 6-0 against Federer at the French Open, including finals wins in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011.

Federer entered the blustery semifinal having won the last five matches of their rivalry, but they had not met since 2017. Nadal beat Federer for the first time since the 2014 Australian Open, improving to 24-15 against the player he calls the greatest ever. It’s 14-2 in Nadal’s favor on clay.

In addition to all the stats, Friday’s wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour played a role in this.

“You get to a point where you’re just happy to make shots and not look ridiculous,” Federer said. Red clay whipped into players’ and fans’ faces. “It just adds to the equation. He’s the best clay-court player, so I can accept that.”

Now, Nadal is one match win from moving within two Slams of Federer’s total (20 to 18) for the first time since 2004, when Federer had two and Nadal had none. But Nadal has played 14 previous Grand Slams with a chance to move within two of Federer and failed each time.

“Five years ago, we would not have envisioned being at this level of our career with that level of tennis,” Nadal said of a rivalry that’s now spanned 15 years. “For the tournament and for Federer, the fact that Federer is back on clay and competitive again, it’s something important. And I think that he will go away with good sensations, because he fought very well to win Roland Garros.”

Federer, at 37 returning to Roland Garros for the first time since 2015, may have played the French Open for the last time.

“Next year, just like with any other tournament, I don’t know,” he said. “We’ll see what happens. But I definitely enjoyed the clay-court season and the French Open, so that would help the chances, I guess, to return to the clay.”

FRENCH OPEN: TV Schedule | Scores | Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw

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Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal set French Open semifinal clash

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal
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After two years off clay, and three away from the French Open, Roger Federer reached his goal without yet lifting a trophy. A semifinal match with Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.

“If I came back to play on clay,” Federer said after beating Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals, “I came back to play Rafa.”

Federer and Nadal will play for the 39th time on Friday (NBC, NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and NBC Sports app French Open semifinals coverage begins at 11 a.m. across all time zones).

Federer owns a personal-best five-match win streak in the rivalry (last meeting in 2017), but he’s 2-13 against Nadal on clay and 0-5 at the French Open. Nadal, an 11-time French Open champ, has the 23-15 edge overall.

“What I will do is try to do my best, so that the victories I have won on this surface against him count for something,” Nadal said after routing Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 in a quarterfinal that started and finished during Federer’s 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 win over Wawrinka. “And he will do his utmost to make sure that his latest victories against me have their weight. And so we’ll see.”

FRENCH OPEN: TV Schedule | Scores | Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw

Federer, a 37-year-old with a male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, missed the 2016 French Open with a back injury, then skipped the entire clay-court seasons in 2017 and 2018. Main reasons: rest, recovery and to extend his career. It did. After going four straight years without a major title, Federer won three between 2017 and 2018.

He returned to clay this spring and had moderate results, reaching the quarterfinals in Madrid and Rome. After arriving in Paris, he said he felt similar to when he came back from a knee injury to play the Australian Open in 2017. Which he won.

“I feel like I’m playing good tennis, but is it enough or is it enough against the absolute top guys when it really comes to the crunch?” Federer said on the eve of the French Open, which he won for the one and only time 10 years ago. “I’m not sure if it’s in my racket.”

Well, Federer didn’t drop a set in his first four matches in Paris. Wawrinka, who knocked out Federer en route to the 2015 French Open title, was Federer’s first formidable opponent. Perhaps Federer could have finished him off before a 75-minute rain delay if he had converted more than two of 18 break points.

“I exceeded my expectations here,” said Federer, into his first French semifinal since 2012. “I’m very happy to play Rafa, because if you want to do or achieve something on the clay, inevitably, at some stage, you will go through Rafa.”

Nadal, 91-2 all-time at the French, also dropped one set in his first five matches. He entered the tournament as a slight favorite over top-ranked Novak Djokovic, the likely Sunday final opponent for Federer or Nadal.

“Of course after having Roger in front in the semifinals is an extra thing,” Nadal said. “We shared the most important moments of our careers together on court facing each other. So is another episode of this, and happy for that and excited, no? Will be special moment, and let’s try to be ready for it.”

In Tuesday’s women’s quarterfinals, No. 7 Sloane Stephens was upset by No. 26 Jo Konta of Great Britain, 6-1, 6-4.

Konta, a former world No. 4, had been winless in four previous French Open appearances. Now she’s into her third Grand Slam semifinal and first since 2017 Wimbledon. She is the first British woman to reach the semifinals in Paris since Jo Durie in 1983.

Czech Marketa Vondrousova, a 19-year-old ranked No. 38, awaits in Thursday’s semis.

Men’s Quarterfinals
(1) Novak Djokovic – (5) Alexander Zverev (Wednesday)
(4) Dominic Thiem – (10) Karen Khachanov (Wednesday)
(3) Roger Federer def. (24) Stan Wawrinka 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4
(2) Rafael Nadal def. (7) Kei Nishikori, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3

Women’s Quarterfinals
(8) Ashleigh Barty – (14) Madison Keys (Wednesday)
(3) Simona Halep – Amanda Anisimova (Wednesday)
(26) Jo Konta def. (7) Sloane Stephens, 6-1, 6-4
Marketa Vondrousova def. (31) Petra Martic, 7-6 (1), 7-5

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Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal near French Open showdown

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PARIS (AP) — Roger Federer’s return to French Open clay is going so smoothly he still has not dropped a set in reaching the quarterfinals.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner eased through with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 win Sunday against unseeded Argentine b and is one match away from a potential semifinal — and a 39th career match — against defending champion and longtime rival Rafael Nadal.

First Federer must get past countryman and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals. Wawrinka edged No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6 (6), 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 8-6 after 5 hours, 9 minutes.

Nadal won by the same score as Federer on Sunday, but he was at least given a little bit more of a test by another unseeded Argentine, Juan Ignacio Londero.

While Federer did not face a single break point in beating Mayer for the fourth time in four meetings, Nadal dropped his serve once — late in the third set — and saved four other break-point chances in his first-ever match against the quick-hitting Londero.

Serving at 40-30 in the eighth game of the third set, Nadal was given a time violation warning, which he felt was the correct call made in the wrong circumstances because of persistent talking from the crowd as he prepared to serve in that game, and during his previous service game.

“Ok, I agree with you but (they are) still talking,” Nadal told the chair umpire, referring to the crowd.

Nadal held with an ace for 5-3, and then broke Londero for the sixth time to clinch victory.

Federer won his only French Open in 2009, the year Nadal lost to big-serving Swede Robin Soderling in the fourth round.

The 37-year-old Federer is now into a record-extending 54th Grand Slam quarterfinal overall, compared to 38 for Nadal, which is fourth all-time. Federer also became the third oldest man to reach the last eight at Roland Garros.

“Of course the hope was to go deep and I’m in the quarters now, so I’m very, very happy at this point,” Federer said. “I served super well and Leonardo had trouble returning. I was able to put pressure on him and I’m very happy with my performance.”

After dropping his serve to lose the second set, Mayer angrily swiped the ball away and was given a code violation warning for ball abuse.

Federer was looking so clinical and assured that the crowd at a sun-baked Philippe Chatrier groaned in disbelief when he missed an easy-looking forehand volley at the net, early in the third set.

It was the second time Federer has beaten Mayer at a Grand Slam — the other also coming in straight sets, in the first round of the U.S. Open in 2015. That was also the last year Federer had played at Roland Garros, before skipping clay entirely until returning to the surface this year.

Four years ago, Federer lost in the quarterfinals to Wawrinka in straight sets. But Federer leads their head-to-head series 22-3. Wawrinka won the last time they faced each other in Paris, in the 2015 quarterfinals.

Earlier Sunday, Petra Martic followed up her win over second-seeded Karolina Pliskova by rallying past Kaia Kanepi 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 on center court to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

The 31st-seeded Croat next faces Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova, who reached her first quarterfinal at a major without dropping a set. The 19-year-old Vondrousova beat 12th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 6-2, 6-0 in just 59 minutes.

Also advancing to the last eight was 26th-seeded Briton Johanna Konta, who beat 23rd-seeded Donna Vekic 6-2, 6-4. Konta’s quarterfinal opponent will be 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, who swept 2016 French Open champion Garbine Muguruza.

FRENCH OPEN: TV Schedule | Scores | Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw

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