Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer met 40 times between 2004 and 2019. Nadal had 24 wins, but Roger had the upper hand in the closing stages of their incredible rivalry. The Swiss defeated the Spaniard in Basel 2015 and began his remarkable series against a great rival.
Federer has beaten Nadal in six of the last seven meetings, including their last meeting at Wimbledon three years ago. Roger won just nine games against Rafa in the Roland Garros semi-final a month earlier, and he didn’t like his chances at the beloved Wimbledon either.
Federer’s coach Ivan Ljubicic said they had to assure him that he could beat Nadal on grass, with the whole team doing everything they could to make him feel less inferior. As it turned out, it all worked out well for Roger, who beat Rafa 7-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in three hours and two minutes for a place in his last Major final.
Federer shot 51 game winners and 27 unforced errors, playing aggressive tennis and starting again from set number three to emerge on top. Rafa chased his first Wimbledon final since 2011, hitting 32 winners and 25 errors and missing his chance in the closing stages of the fourth set.
There were two breaks on each side, with Federer saving his successful return games for sets three and four when it mattered most. Both players served well in the first set, with Rafa denying the only break chance in game eight after pushing the opponent’s backhand to the limit.
The set went into a tie break, and Nadal opened with a 3-2 lead. Suddenly, Federer claimed five points in a row and closed out the set with a forehand down the line winner for a huge boost. Rafa stayed focused and broke at love at 2-1 in the second set to build the lead.
Roger Federer beat Rafael Nadal in his last match on Tour.
The Spaniard broke again in the sixth game after the Swiss’s terrible forehand and closed the set a few minutes later 6-1. Federer made a fresh start in the third set and fired 15 game winners and two unforced errors to keep the pressure on the other side.
He broke Nadal for the first time in game four with a volley winner for a 3-1 lead. Roger forced the opponent’s error in game nine to take the set 6-3 and close in on the finish after two hours and six minutes.
Federer made the decisive break at 1-1 in the fourth set and looked good to seal the deal from there. Rafa wasted game points at 3-5 and experienced one match point. He saved it with a service winner and held on to reduce the deficit and keep his chances alive.
Federer served for the win at 5-4 and played a loose spike to face a break point. He denied it after Nadal’s backhand error and sealed the deal on the fifth match point to a massive celebration. «The 2019 Wimbledon semi-final win over Rafael Nadal ranks among my favorite Roger triumphs.
Roger was worried and under pressure. He felt inferior and we had to assure him that he was capable of winning. I cried after that match and it was a very emotional moment,» said Ivan Ljubicic.