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Fedal attraction: Federer and Nadal to face off at Wimbledon for the first time since iconic 2008 final

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 10 Jul 2019
  • Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will face off in the semifinals of Wimbledon 2019
  • It will be the first meeting between Federer and Nadal at Wimbledon since the iconic 2008 final
  • Federer won his 100th Wimbledon match against Kei Nishikori to book Nadal clash
Roger Federer celebrates winning his 100th match at Wimbledon (PA Sports)

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will play each other at Wimbledon for the first time since 2008.

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Federer and Nishikori at the net after Federer's quarterfinal victory (PA Sports)
The greatest rivalry in sports returns to Wimbledon on Friday as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will face off in the men's semifinals.

This will be the fortieth match between Federer and Nadal overall but the first time they have played at Wimbledon since facing off in the iconic 2008 final, a five-set match which was widely acclaimed as the greatest match of all time. 

It was their third consecutive Wimbledon final and Nadal, who up until that point had not won a major outside Roland Garros, won 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7 in four hours and 48 minutes. Memorably, Federer only converted one of 13 break points. At the time, it was the longest Grand Slam singles final (since surpassed by the 2012 Australian Open final between Nadal and Novak Djokovic). Nadal's victory ended Federer's run of five consecutive Wimbledon titles, and the Spaniard would go on to end Federer's 237-week reign as world no. 1. 

This year, the winner of the semifinal clash is likely to face Novak Djokovic in the final as the top seed faces Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut in the other semifinal.

Nadal leads the overall head-to-head between the two 24-15, but Federer has won five of the last six they played.

Federer's quarterfinal victory over Kei Nishikori was his 100th match win at Wimbledon, the first time any male player has won 100 singles matches at one major in the Open Era.

The closest any other player has come to winning 100 matches at a single Grand Slam is Jimmy Connors's 98 wins at the US Open, followed by Federer's 97 victories at the Australian Open and Nadal at the French Open with 93.

Nishikori took the opening set from Federer before the eight-time Wimbledon champion surged back, playing three very aggressive, accurate games to race to a 3-0 lead in the second. Nishikori had two break points in the third set, but was unable to convert either while Federer broke serve in the seventh game. In the fourth set, Nishikori fended off break points in two games but his serve was constantly under pressure and it told at 4-4 as Federer broke and promptly served out the match 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 to reach his thirteenth Wimbledon semifinal.

Rafael Nadal celebrates beating Sam Querrey (PA Sports)
Playing simultaneously on No. 1 Court, Rafael Nadal came through a hard-fought first set against Sam Querrey to dominate the rest of the match. All of the 'Big Three' had lost their last matches to their opponents in Wednesday's quarterfinals, in Nadal's case suffering a defeat to big-serving former semifinalist Querrey in Acapulco in 2017, but all three showed on Wednesday that facing off at a major is a very different matter and the same was true in the case of Nadal and Querrey. 

The American erased Nadal's initial break, but Nadal had little trouble re-establishing it and served the first set out at 6-5 before saving break points in the sixth game of the second set and cruising from there as Querrey fell away. Nadal's passing shots and brutal groundstrokes punished Querrey every time he tried to venture forwards and with Nadal serving extremely well, winning 82% of his first service points and 54% of his second-serve points, Querrey had little else to offer. The fact that the American only won 28% of the points played behind his own second serve demonstrates his inferiority from the baseline on the day and Nadal broke serve six times as he romped to a 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 victory in just two hours and nine minutes.

This is Nadal's second consecutive semifinal appearance at Wimbledon after having failed to get past the fourth round on his last five appearances.

'[He has] improved so much over the years on this surface. He's playing also very different than he used to. Haven't played each other in a long, long time on this surface. He's serving way different. I remember back in the day how he used to serve, and now how much bigger he's serving, how much faster he finishes points,' Federer said. 

'A lot of them are saying, "Oh, it's the end," by 2008. Similar to me in '09. We're still here, so it's nice to play each other again.'

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Fedal attraction: Federer and Nadal to face off at Wimbledon for the first time since iconic 2008 final

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will face each other in the semifinals of Wimbledon 2019 on Friday - their first confrontation at Wimbledon since their epic five-set final, widely acclaimed as the greatest match of all time, in 2008

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