Federer won’t rule out 2020 Roland Garros return

Roger Federer slumped to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 loss to Rafael Nadal in the semifinals on Friday, marking his worst Grand Slam mauling since 2008.

Roger Federer now trails Rafael Nadal 2-14 on clay, with the Swiss star’s last win on the surface against the Spaniard coming back in 2009.   -  AFP

Roger Federer suffered his worst Grand Slam mauling since 2008 at the hands of Rafael Nadal but hasn’t ruled out returning to Roland Garros in 2020 — when he will be almost 39 years old.

Federer slumped to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 loss to the 11-time French Open champion in the semifinals on Friday.

Nadal now leads his overall head-to-head against Federer 24-15, and 14-2 on clay with the Swiss star’s last win on the surface against the Spaniard coming back in 2009.

“Next year, just like with any other tournament, we’ll see what happens,” said Federer, who returned to Roland Garros this year for the for the first time since 2015.

“But I definitely enjoyed the clay court season and the French Open, so that would help the chances, I guess, to return. It’s not like it’s been a shocker. So from that standpoint, it’s okay.”

In damp, swirling conditions on Court Philippe Chatrier, Nadal made only 19 unforced errors, crushing 33 winners as Federer struck 25.

Nadal will be appearing in a 12th French Open final and chasing a 12th title for an 18th major which would put him just two behind Federer in the all-time list.

On Friday, 33-year-old Nadal also mastered the wind which battered Paris with gusts of up to 37km per hour blowing the clay off the court and into the eyes of the players and spectators.

It all played into Nadal’s hands as he took his record in the tournament to 92 wins against just two losses.

Federer doubts anyone can help him prepare for Nadal on clay

Federer does not believe there is anyone who can help him prepare for Nadal on clay.

The 20-time major champion boasts just two wins in 16 meetings with the 'King of Clay' on the red dirt, his only successes coming in Hamburg in 2007 and in Madrid two years later.

"He makes you feel uncomfortable the way he defends the court and plays on clay. There is nobody who even plays remotely close to him," said the Swiss.

"I don't even know who I need to go search for to go practice with somebody who plays like him. I was thinking that during the match.

"It's just amazing how he plays from deep and then is able to bounce back and forth from the baseline. It's just quite interesting.

"But my mindset still was, it's windy, anything can happen. I didn't play poor [in the] two first sets in my opinion.

"I thought Rafa really had to come up with the goods to make the difference, and the difference was a passing shot here, a pick up there, and then he was doing great."

Federer was pleased by his performances at Roland Garros after three years off clay and suggested it makes it more likely he will return next year.

"I think I played really well. I think I surprised myself maybe how deep I got in this tournament and how well I actually was able to play throughout," he said.

"And next year, just like with any other tournament, I don't know. We'll see what happens. But I definitely enjoyed the clay-court season and the French Open, so that would help the chances to return to the clay.

"It's not like it's been a shocker. So from that standpoint, it's okay."

On the exceptionally windy conditions on Chatrier, he added: "You get to a point where you're just happy to make shots and not look ridiculous. It's that bad. It's just really difficult for both of us.

"I don't think I played poorly in the wind today. It's just it's tough on clay. You've got to try to take on the half-volleys, too, all that stuff. It just adds to the equation. He's the best clay-court player, so I can accept that. It's not a problem."

(With inputs from Opta.)