Roger Federer withdrew at the Laver Cup in September. The Swiss played his last match with his great rival Rafael Nadal, making it one of the most emotional nights in tennis history. Nadal and Federer played their last matches in 2019, embracing two duels at Roland Garros and Wimbledon and sharing victories.
Rafa faced Roger in Paris for the first time since the 2011 final and scored a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 triumph in two hours and 25 minutes in the semi-final. Thus, Nadal beat Federer for the tenth time in 14 duels in Majors and advanced to the 12th final of his beloved Major.
Rafa had lost all five of his previous matches against Roger, seeking his first victory over the Swiss since the 2014 Australian Open. Nadal was determined to finally overcome a great rival and extend his Parisian dominance, securing the 92nd win from 94 matches in his favorite tournament.
Nadal hit 33 winners and 19 unforced errors, faced four break chances and was broken twice. Roger needed a lot more than that to challenge the best clay-court player in his first semifinal in Paris since 2012, firing 25 winners and 34 errors.
The Spaniard converted six of 16 break chances to control the scoring. He defended superbly and found open court from challenging positions to neutralize Roger’s attacks and keep the Swiss out of his comfort zone.
The conditions were tough and windy, especially in the first set, when they struggled to find their rhythm and impose their shots. Things picked up from set number two, and Nadal took the lead in the closing stages, playing well on serve and coming back to leave Federer far behind.
Carving out a 3-0 lead, Rafa lost the lead midway through the first set and scored another break at 3-2 when Roger’s forehand landed in the net. The Spaniard closed the set with a hold in game nine. Roger leveled him up early in the second to carve out a 2-0 lead and gain momentum.
Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer in the 2019 Roland Garros semifinal.
Federer wasted a game point at 2-0 and broke after Nadal’s winning forehand. The Spaniard had the momentum again and held on after two in the eighth game for 4-4.
Rafa broke Roger in the next one trailing 40-0, taking five points in a row and securing the pivotal break with a game-winning volley. Nadal was held to love in the tenth game and advanced two sets after one hour and 45 minutes, determined to get the job done in the third.
Federer had nothing else left in the warehouse, unable to end Nadal’s streak and find a way to impose his shots and turn the tide of the match. Rafa took breaks in games three and five and sealed the deal with a 5-2 lead for another final in his kingdom.
“It was great facing Federer at Roland Garros after that final in 2011, even though I never felt compelled to win. Before the match I was convinced that I was playing well and I felt ready for the match, stepping on the pitch with confidence, which always helps.
When someone is confident in their abilities, the pressure naturally fades. Even so, it must be remembered that it was a very windy day that complicated the game. To beat Federer, you have to be at your best, that doesn’t change,» Rafael Nadal said.