Each time, it's an event. The confrontations between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the two greatest players of all time, make the tennis fans salivate. Games often anthology that will remain in the collective memory of this sport. Rafael Nadal summarizes quite well the general feeling: "It's always a unique and special feeling because we also know that the chances of it happening again are becoming more and more rare. So you have to enjoy it. "
"In tennis, you are good only if your opponent pushes you into your entrenchments"
On Friday, on the Wimbledon Center Court, the Swiss and the Spaniard, 39 titles of the Grand Slam between them, will compete in the semifinals of the tournament in London. It will be the 40e chapter of one of the most beautiful rivalries in the history of tennis and sport in general (1). Their last duel dates back to just over a month ago, in the semifinals of Roland-Garros. A match unfortunately disturbed by the wind, dantesque that day. A match that Rafael Nadal, king of the earth, had mastered to win in three sets.
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But on turf, the two brothers have not fought each other for eleven years, and this famous anthology final of 2008, which is still today among the five greatest tennis games of the open era. This is to say the excitement that reigns in the alleys of the mythical All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. "Anyone who loves tennis can only dream of a meeting here between these two champions", rejoices Martina Navratilova. And the old glory of women's tennis to remember how much this kind of rivalry grows those who live it, like the one she knew at the time with Chris Evert. "Chris and I might have won more titles if the other had not been there. But we would never have been such good players without each other. And it's the same for Roger and Rafa. They shoot each other up. In tennis, you're good only if your opponent pushes you to your limits, forces you to play great moves. "
Federer and Nadal are the first conscious. "I'm excited about finding Roger on this court after eleven years. It means a lot to me and probably to him too, " confided the Spaniard on Wednesday after his winning quarter-final. Between them, it's a little "I love you, me neither". This feeling of not being able to do without each other while secretly wishing that the other never existed.
"He will always remain my ultimate rival."
Their common destiny began this day of 2004 in Miami where the young Majorquin had the affront of sticking a 6-3, 6-3 to the Bâlois then comfortably installed at the top of the tennis world. For a long time, the two legends did not like fighting each other, but over the years they learned how to measure what they bring each other, to enjoy a sublimated rivalry a little more by each memorable match . "We had difficult and painful battles on the court, we sometimes had differences but there was always a lot of respect between us, Federer told us some time ago. We have shared so many strong moments on and off the court that we have formed a form of friendship. The older we are, the more I realize the importance of "Rafa" in my career. He will always remain my ultimate rival. And even though I was already number one when he arrived, he helped me to progress, to become a better player. " On the eve of his Paris semifinal against Nadal, the Swiss had confessed to having returned to Roland Garros in the hope of facing the Spaniard. "Maybe Rafa's presence is a source of extra motivation in my career. Our rivalry is part of what I like about tennis. His game and my game complement each other well. "
An opposition of style and personality that makes each of their meeting, with few exceptions, a pure delight with all the ingredients necessary for a good match, quality of play, suspense, dramaturgy and that feeling that each time, the story is running. "When I train, I try to progress and adjust my game to honor our rivalry, says Federer again. When we fight, we know that it's something big for the sport and we try to give it the maximum. "
That's what they will do on Friday. For a place in the final. And especially for the pleasure of amateurs.
(1) On their 39 face-to-face singles (out of friendlies), Nadal leads 24-15. On clay, the Spaniard leads 14-2 against the Swiss, who dominates him on hard surfaces (11-9 and turf (2-1).
Isabelle Musy at Wimbledon
(tagsToTranslate) Tennis (t) Spain (t) Rafael Nadal (t) Switzerland (t) Wimbledon (t) Clay (t) Roger Federer (t) Miami (t) London (t) Center Short (t) Era Open (t) Martina Navrátilová (t) Genre (s) Roland-Garros (t) Common Destiny (t) I t