Rafael Nadal has defeated Roger Federer to reach the French Open final. Nadal will play for his 12th title at Roland Garros after a three-set 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory over his longtime rival.
It was the longtime rivals’ 39th career meeting, but their first at Roland Garros since 2011. Federer had won their last five matches but still has never beaten Nadal at the French Open in six tries.
Nadal, who will take on either the world No 1, Novak Djokovic, or Dominic Thiem, the man he beat in last year’s final, for the chance of an 18th grand slam title. “It was very difficult. The wind was incredible but I am very happy to be into the final again.”
Federer created some opportunities though. For example, he led 2-0 in the second set, then threatened but couldn’t break Nadal at 4-3, and was broken from 40-0 at 4-4. But clay, and Court Philippe Chatrier in particular, is Nadal’s domain. So, despite Federer’s best efforts, it was the 11-time champion who came out a convincing winner.
Nadal gained two match points quickly while serving at 5-2. On the first, Federer hit a great return and Nadal sent a backhand long.
On the second set, the crowd began chanting “Ro-ger!” louder than they had the whole match. Perhaps, predicting this to be his last match. Or that this might be the last time these two friends and rivals will play each other on this court.
Federer walked off the court moments later to more chants of his name and waved both hands at the fans. Once he was gone, the chant changed to “Ra-fa! Ra-fa!”