(March 14, 2013) In the 29th edition of the rivalry which dates back to when they first met in Miami in 2004, Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer 6-4, 6-2 to move into the semifinals of the BNP Paris Open on Thursday.
In the first set both men stayed even until the seventh game when Nadal broke Federer on a backhand crosscourt passing shot winner to go up a break 4-3. Federer had been struggling to hold his serve until Nadal broke him in the second game.
Nadal threatened to break Federer again in the ninth game, but Federer held off two set points to hold for 4-5. Nadal served out the first set 6-4.
In the first set Nadal had an 82% first serve percentage versus Federer with 70%. Nadal had 8 errors to Federer’s 16 in the 47 minute first set.
A telling statistic from the first set – Nadal lead Federer in groundstroke winners 11-1.
Nadal opened the second set with a break at love and broke a sluggish Federer again in the third game for a 3-0, two break lead. Federer had been suffering with back issues during the tournament. Federer showed some signs of life by breaking the Spaniard for the first time in the match to get to 1-3 in the second set.
A Federer hold made it 3-2 Nadal. Nadal kept in front by a break holding at 30 for 4-2 and broke Federer again for a 5-2 lead.
Nadal served out the match at love to win 6-4, 6-2 to move into the semifinals where he’ll play Tomas Berdych next.
In the end Nadal was just too powerful from the baseline winning 57 points from there to Federer’s 25. Nadal committed a mere 13 unforced errors to Federer’s 30.
“I played great the first set,” Nadal said. “I played a fantastic first set, in my opinion. The second set was strange. The second set I think Roger didn’t fight as usual. Probably he had some problems and he didn’t feel enough comfortable to keep fighting.”
Federer was asked about his back injury: “Same as against Stan. I mean, I could play. I’m happy to be out there and able to compete, you know.
“But it’s obviously a small issue. That doesn’t work against guys like Rafa, obviously.”
Federer continued: “Hanging in there in the first set, so you always believe that with a good return game, and, you know, I dug myself out of a couple of tough service games, that I could do it, you know.
“The longer the match went on, I realized I had to change up my game. I played differently than I was hoping to be able to. Obviously he got more comfortable as the match went on, as well. Things became difficult.
“Obviously once I was down a set I knew it was going to be difficult.”
“After seven months away, I am very happy to be in the semi-finals here,” Nadal said on court after the win.
“For me, just to be back in the competition is fantastic. I had matches in the Latin American clay court season, now I’m here for first time in seven months on a hard court tournament, so very happy to be in semifinal, no?”
“I don’t think Roger felt 100 percent tonight. Always it is a very, very special match against Roger, the best player in history. I feel like it is a classic match whenever we play.”
This is Nadal’s first hard court event since his returning to the tennis tour last month after a seven month hiatus due to a left knee injury. His first hard court tournament in 11 months. Nadal is now 15-1 in 2013, and is currently on a 12 match win streak.
Nadal spoke about his performance during the match: “What pleased me most was my movement tonight was much better than yesterday. I played longer than yesterday. I had good feeling on my forehand, even if I had few mistakes with my backhand in the second set. The match became a little bit strange in the second.
“But in the first set I played very well with my backhand. That give a lot of points for me in the final of Acapulco.
“Sometimes today I am not able to play all the shots with my forehand that I used to be because I am not that fast yet to do it. That’s why the backhand today is very important for my game.
“So if I am able to hit well, like I did in the first set, you know, a lot of opportunities open for me in my game because I can hit cross. If my cross backhand goes close to the line then I have the rest of the court for my forehand, and that’s a big advantage.
“Today that makes a big difference in my game.”
Nadal was asked about his next opponent Berdych.
He’s playing better and better every year, ” said Nadal. He played final in Marseilles, final in Dubai, and now he’s semifinals here without losing a set.
“He’s doing great. We’ll see. I gonna try my best. I gonna try to keep playing well and try to fight as I did today, as I did yesterday, and we’ll see if I am able to compete well and enjoy another match.
“Every match is fantastic for me to have the chance to keep playing, and I gonna enjoy the match against another top, top player. Will be another important test for me, and I gonna enjoy.”
Nadal has now improved his record against Federer to 19-10. Should Andy Murray advance to the final, he would leapfrong Federer into the No. 2 spot.