Nadal beats Federer in straight sets to reach 12th French Open final

The Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal clash ended in similar fashion, with the King of Clay winning 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal face off in a semifinal clash at French Open 2019.   -  Getty Images

Hello and welcome to Sportstar's live blog of the much-awaited French Open 2019 semifinal between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

 

7:01pm: A relentless Rafael Nadal wins 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in two hours and 25 minutes to reach his 12th final at the French Open.

Roger Federer's return to the red clay of Roland-Garros has been ended by a familiar foe, one who has beaten him for a sixth time at Court Philippe-Chatrier.

7:00pm: Two match points for Rafa Nadal. But there's still fight in Roger Federer. He saves the first.

"Roger, Roger, Roger..." The crowd is chanting.

6:58pm: Rafael Nadal serves for the match. He's two points from victory.

6:55pm: Federer holds. Nadal serves for the match at 6-3, 6-4, 5-2.

6:51pm: Nadal holds. He's one game away from a 12th Grand Slam final.

6:49pm: Another perfect dropshot from Federer brings up deuce on Nadal's serve.

6:47pm: Federer finally hits a slice dropshot that Nadal fails to return. It's been a while.

6:43pm: Nadal brings up two break points on the Federer serve. And he breaks with another winning exchange at the net. He consolidates his lead in the set at 4-1.

6:41pm: Nadal holds for a 3-1 lead.

6:37pm: Nadal ends a 27-shot rally with another backhand winner.

6:35pm: Right at the two-hour mark, Nadal sends an ace wide of Federer's forehand.

6:33pm: Negative body language from Roger Federer. Understandably. Nadal has two break points, and a net cord on the next point gives him the game.

6:31pm: A love hold for Nadal.

6:28pm: A difficult hold for Federer to start the third set.

6:27pm: With break point on Federer's serve, a Nadal forehand bounces on the net and lands back on his side.

6:21pm: Three unforced errors from Federer give Nadal three set points. A fourth gives Nadal the set and a 6-3, 6-4 lead.

6:17pm: Federer draws Nadal to the net AGAIN, Nadal sends a soft return, Federer returns the favour, and Nadal has the break. The 11-time champion will serve for the second set at 5-4.

6:16pm: THE BANANA FOREHAND WINNER! Nadal has a break point.

6:13pm: YES! BEAUTIFUL TENNIS! Federer draws Nadal to the net again, then sends a backhand crosscourt lob to win the point.

6:11pm: Federer should have had that point won. Nadal stretches and lands a passing shot down the line. Then an ace gives him the hold. 4-all.

6:09pm: Another backhand crosscourt winner from Nadal. Then Federer again draws Nadal to the net and gets it right this time with a backhand passing shot. Deuce.

6:07pm: After a sublime backhand winner, Federer draws Nadal to the net with a beautiful drop shot, then gifts the ball back to Nadal, who hammers a winner. Second time that's happened this set.

Double fault from Nadal makes it 30-all. This is a key game for Federer.

6:03pm: A routine service hold for Roger Federer.

6:00pm: Two big service winners give Nadal the hold for three games apiece.

5:55pm: An easy hold for Federer, who leads the second set 3-2.

5:52pm: Nadal gets back level at 2-2 in the second set.

5:50pm: With both players at the net, Nadal picks Federer's shot, but the ball bounces on the net and then out! 15-15 with Nadal serving.

5:47pm: Nadal gets a third break point. Nadal sends an easy lob to Federer, who flubs his lines and hands the ball right back for a forehand winner. Nadal gets the break back.

5:44pm: Federer saves one break point with a service winner. And the second too. Federer's first serve works when it matters most. Deuce.

5:43pm: A crosscourt backhand winner, similar to the one that won the first set, brings up two break points for Nadal.

5:42pm: Rafa's turn to go 30-0 up on Federer's serve.

5:40pm: Nadal sends down an off-pace serve, which Federer sends long on his return. One break point to go. And Federer breaks! He leads the second set 2-0.

5:39pm: Nadal gives Federer two break points.

5:38pm: Federer wins a 14-shot rally to go 30-0 up on Nadal's serve.

5:34pm: Roger Federer holds serve in the first game of the second set.

5:31pm: Federer serves. He lands a sublime forehand slice dropshot after a netcord from Nadal to begin the second set.

5:25pm: What a way to finish the set! Nadal creates an unbelievable angle on a forehand, against the wind, and there's no way Federer can get there. Nadal takes the first set 6-3, under brutal conditions. 

 

5:22pm: There's a mini sandstorm out on Court Philippe-Chartier. The wind has changed direction and blowing across the court now, covering the two greats in dust. Makes for a dramatic shot.

5:20pm: Federer holds serve. Nadal still leads 5-3 and will serve for the set.

A colleague (who's clearly a Rafa fan) says Nadal's just losing games to give Federer false hopes. 

5:17pm: Insane hittin from Rafa. That last point saw Federer play a brilliant forehand against the wind but he was left helpless as Nadal's immaculate return kissed the line on its way out.  Nadal leads 5-2.

5:13pm: The game finally comes to an end as Nadal breaks again as Federer nets a forehand! He leads 4-3 in the first set.

5:10pm: Federer saves two break points. Nadal displays some excellent reflexes at the net as he brings it back to deuce and gets to his fourth break point but Federer pulls it back with an ace. A fifth break point and Federer saves that too.

It's looking quite like we expected. Federer's attacking with drop shots, disrupting Nadal's rhythm at the baseline. The winds are making it tougher, but they're still managing to dish out a brilliant game of tennis. And we're still in the first set.

5:01pm: It's quite windy down there. Nadal took almost to minute to get his serve out, with the dust from the clay blowing into him. Federer gets to the net and plays a glorious drop past Nadal. Deuce.

Federer gets his first break point of the match as Nadal nets a forehand. Nadal returns long and Federer breaks. Nadal leads 3-2 in the first set.

4:54pm: Federer finally gets himself on the scoreboard. 3-1 in the first set.

4:52pm: Rafa holds to love and leads 3-0. 

4:46pm: Nadal has two early break points, as Federer plays a forehand way wide.  Federer saves both, the second one with an immaculate drop beating Nadal for spin at the baseline. The Spaniard gets another break point and it's first blood to Nadal. He leads 2-0 in the first set.

 

4:44pm: IT HAS BEGUN!  Nadal holds to take the first game, he leads 1-0.

4:40pm: Nadal leads their all-time head-to-head at 23-15.

4:35pm: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are meeting each other at the semifinal stage of the French Open for the first time in 14 years. The last time they met, the Spaniard was a 19-year-old enroute to winning his first Grand Slam. Scroll down for more such facts.

4:29pm: ASHLEIGH BARTY IS INTO THE FINAL! (Read more here) What a semifinal that was! Hope this one's going to be even better.

4:28pm: FACT: The top four seeds in a Grand Slam men's singles draw are into the semifinals for the first time since the 2013 Australian Open.

2013 Australian Open: 1) Novak Djokovic, 2) Roger Federer, 3) Andy Murray, 4) David Ferrer.

2019 French Open: 1) Novak Djokovic, 2) Rafael Nadal, 3) Roger Federer, 4) Dominic Thiem.

4:23pm: We're only minutes. Hold on, impatient souls. Meanwhile, 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova has cruised into her maiden Grand Slam final. Ashleigh Barty is locked in an exciting encounter against 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova, Follow that match here.

What a way to slide into the weekend! A Friday blockbuster indeed.

The last time these two behemoths met was 2017 at Shanghai. They would have met at Indian Wells earlier this year if Nadal hadn't pulled out due to injury, However, we finally have another Federer-Nadal showdown, albeit at the French Open - Rafa's second home. This will be their sixth meeting in Paris, with 11-time champion Nadal triumphing in each of their previous five clashes.

Out of the 15 times Nadal and Federer have met on clay, Nadal leads 13-2. 

Federer-Nadal at Roland-Garros after eight years

A Federer-Nadal clash on clay is coming for the first time since 2013 in Rome and the final in 2011 was the last time they met at the French Open. Federer hasn't beaten Nadal on clay since 2009. The 20-time Grand Slam champion knows how tough a match against the King of Clay can be, especially when returning to clay after a break of four years. "If you want to achieve something on clay, inevitable, at some stage, you have to go through Rafa."

Some stats you need to know

6- This will be their sixth meeting in Paris, with Nadal triumphing in each of their previous five clashes.

5 - Nadal is bidding to snap his five-match losing streak against Federer, which dates back to the 2014 Australian Open semifinals and extend his unbeaten 22-0 record in matches at Roland Garros after reaching the final four.

12- Nadal and Federer have met 12 times at Grand Slams. Nadal leads 9-3.

30- Federer has won four Grand Slam titles since turning 30 and Nadal has won three

15 - Nadal and Federer have met 15 times on clay (Nadal leads 13-2)

10 - Federer (310) and Nadal (196) have combined for 506 weeks at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings — nearly 10 years!

Background

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal set up a sixth meeting at Roland Garros, the first since 2011. The two GOAT contenders reached the semis in contrasting fashion amid an hour-long rain delay.

Federer needed three hours and 35 minutes to dispatch of compatriot Stan Wawrinka in a match of supreme tennis that saw the latter return to the kind of game he played when he won three Grand Slam titles in 2013-15.

 

READ | Federer ousts Wawrinka to set up mouth-watering Nadal semifinal

Nadal had it much easier, dropping just five games to Kei Nishikori in a match that lasted an hour and 51 minutes.

READ | Nadal thrashes Nishikori to set up Federer showdown