Rafael Nadal ‘excited’ for long-overdue Wimbledon rematch with Roger Federer

Eleven years since Rafael Nadal’s victory against Roger Federer at Wimbledon in what is widely accepted to be the greatest match in history, the pair will renew rivalries again after the Spaniard swept aside Sam Querrey in the quarter-finals.

For all that the failure of the young pretenders to challenge the Big Three has been lamented, it has its upsides too given Nadal and Federer have not clashed in SW19 since that unforgettable tussle in 2008. The men’s competition has been a slow burner, to put it politely, but Nadal’s semi-final against Federer will ensure it catches fire on Friday.

Nadal has seemingly played with a chip on his shoulder, so perhaps it will please him to hear that Querrey – no mug on these courts having defeated Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic in recent years – has tipped Federer for victory. Nadal was piqued by Nick Kyrgios’s verbal jousting and sent him packing and after brushing aside João Sousa in the previous round Nadal was adamant he deserved his place on Centre Court when put to him that perhaps the women’s world No 1, Ashleigh Barty, ought to have been there instead.

Querrey certainly posed a dangerous threat, coming into the match top of the aces list with 100 and having been broken just once. Nadal also has history when it comes to less heralded opponents producing inspired performances against him with Gilles Müller, Dustin Brown, Kyrgios, Steve Darcis and Luka Rosol all beating him since his second title in 2010. That said, Nadal has arguably not been in this kind of form at Wimbledon since then.

If he is to add a third title he is likely to have to overcome Federer and the defending champion Novak Djokovic – who beat him in the last four a year ago – but the Spaniard has the added carrot of what would be a third French Open and Wimbledon double.

Assuming Djokovic will reach the final is not to do Roberto Bautista Agut a disservice but the world No 1 is looking equally formidable. This is the first time the Big Three have all reached the last four since 2007 but the writing has been on the wall since the early rounds.

“First of all, it’s a great feeling to be back in that semi-finals,” Nadal said. “I’m very happy the way we managed to be in that round. Now [to] play against Roger always is a unique situation. I’m excited to be back on this court against him after 11 years. It means a lot for me and probably for him, too.

“I’m excited about this match, excited about this opportunity to be again in that round against him. Always I say the same: of course, the opportunities to play against each other every time are less, but we are still here. After tomorrow we going to have another chance. I just expect to play against probably the best player of the history in this surface and know I have to play my best if I want to have chances to be in that final. That’s all. I know he’s playing well. He feels comfortable here. And me, too. I’m playing well, too.”

Put simply, Nadal’s march to a seventh Wimbledon semi-final has been relentless. He dropped a set against Kyrgios but has not done so since and while Querrey could have made for an uncomfortable afternoon, the big-serving American was sent packing in 2hr 7min.

Such was Nadal’s early dominance Querrey did not win a point on the Nadal serve until the eighth game of the opening set and when it did come it was a double-fault. Nadal had to save a break point in that particular game but held for 5-3, celebrating with a trademark fist-pump.

That gave Nadal the impetus in the first set and while Querrey thrashed down four aces at more than 130mph to hold for 5-4, Nadal had the chance to serve for the set. He could not do so – Nadal receiving another time warning on the way to being broken but he broke straight back, eventually capitalising on a fourth break point before serving out the first set.

Nadal seized the ascendancy and broke early in the second set and crucially held for 4-2 under considerable pressure from the big-hitting Querrey. That seemed to break his spirit – Nadal easing to the second set and wrapping up the third, taking both 6-2.

source: theguardian.com