It’s been more than a decade since Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have played at Wimbledon in the 2008 final, which today is still widely considered one of the best matches in history. But the pair has met far more recently — just more than a month ago, in fact — at Roland Garros, with Nadal triumphing in straight sets.
Federer doesn’t think that match holds much relevance heading into their blockbuster showdown at SW19, though.
“Not so much the French Open, I do believe. I feel like conditions were slightly different. It was so windy. It was just insane,” Federer said. “I haven’t heard it was going to be the same in a couple of days, so I hope not, even though that would be funny again.”
Nadal won that match 6-3, 6-4, 6-2, with Federer unable to find many inroads against the Spaniard, getting broken six times in the match. Before that, Federer had won five straight FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against Nadal dating back to 2015 Basel. Each of those five victories came on hard courts.
“Maybe [the] Australian Open final [is relevant]. Obviously, best-of-five set match, five sets. Then again, I don’t know,” Federer said. “It doesn’t matter anyway. Who cares. It’s about how has he played so far? How have I played so far? I hope it goes my way.
“It’s going to be tough. Rafa really can hurt anybody on any surface. He’s that good. He’s not just a clay-court specialist.”
Roger & Rafa: Every Match Ever Played
It’s been 11 years since the pair has competed on grass. They’ve met three times at Wimbledon, battling in the championship match at the All England Club from 2006-08. Federer emerged victorious on the first two occasions, while Nadal earned his first trophy on the hallowed London grass in 2008, defeating Federer in a match that Jon Wertheim detailed in a book called “Strokes of Genius: Federer, Nadal, and the Greatest Match Ever Played”.
“[He has] improved so much over the years on this surface. He’s playing also very different than he used to. [We] haven’t played each other in a long, long time on this surface. He’s serving way different. I remember back in the day how he used to serve, and now how much bigger he’s serving, how much faster he finishes points,” Federer said. “It’s impressive to see how sort of healthy he’s stayed. A lot of them are saying, ‘Oh, it’s the end,’ by 2008. Similar to me in ’09. We’re still here. So it’s nice to play each other again.”
Both players have been strong at serve this fortnight. Federer leads the tournament having only been broken three times, and Nadal has only lost his serve four times. The Swiss star isn’t happy with one thing in particular, but is generally pleased with his game heading into the last four.
“I feel good on the court. Even if I’m down a set or down a break, no hurry there. I stay calm. I feel like I have the 1-2 punch sort of under control. I’m serving good. I’m going in phases in returning,” Federer said. “It’s been very different to play Berrettini in the last match where he’s serving big. I was chipping a lot today, I was coming over all the time. That obviously takes some getting used to.
“Overall I’m just very happy how I’m hitting the ball. Feel good off the baseline, too, which is clearly going to be important maybe for the next match.”