It has only been one month since tennis legends Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal played each other, when Nadal defeated Federer on clay in straight sets in the 2019 French Open semifinal on the way to a 12th title there. The two rivals, arguably the greatest players of their generation, if not ever, have faced off a total of 39 times on the ATP tour.
On Friday, they meet for a 40th time, this time on the storied courts of the All England Club at the Wimbledon semi-final. The match begins at 10 a.m. EST.
“We had some brutal conditions to play (in) there. But it was a joy to play against Rafa there, on his court,” Federer said. “And, of course, I’d love to play against him here at Wimbledon.”
On Friday, Federer gets his shot at Nadal on grass and hopes to prolong his pursuit of a ninth championship at tennis’ most prestigious tournament.
“Means a lot for me,” Nadal said, “and probably for him, too.”
Nadal leads the all-time matchup 25-14, which has included 14 battles at one of the major tournaments. Nadal leads 10-3 in those face-offs. They have met three previous time on Centre Court at Wimbledon, where Federer holds a 2-1 advantage.
Their last match on Centre Court was an absolutely classic. Nadal edged Federer 9-7 in the fifth set of the 2008 final — considered by many the greatest match in tennis’ lengthy history — as daylight dwindled to nothing.
If it’s hard to believe more than a decade has passed since these two rivals last shared a court at Wimbledon, it’s also tough to fathom how it is that they have dominated their sport as long as they have. Federer ranks first among men with 20 career Grand Slam titles. Nadal is next with 18. Add in the third-place count of 15 trophies belonging to Novak Djokovic, who is seeded No. 1 and plays No. 23 Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in Friday’s other semifinal, and this terrific trio has won 53 of the last 64 major championships.
Although Federer turns 38 on Aug. 8, Nadal is 33 and Djokovic 32, they aren’t showing signs of letting up.
“We still (feel) that we have chances to compete for the most important things,” Nadal said. “That’s what really make us keep playing with this intensity.”