The first two French Open quarter-finals were completed following a thunderstorm which halted play for some hours and the result was the match-up many had hoped for – a semi-final clash between two of the greatest rivals who between them, hold 37 grand slam titles.
The complete dream would be to win the tournament, Other players won't agree. It will be difficult, but I believe it anyway. It was hard, really, really hard. Stan played a really good match. Roger Federer
The two titans of the game progressed with Federer experiencing the strongest challenge he had faced so far at Roland Garros, but he eventually succeeded in dispatching his Swiss compatriot 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(5) 6-4 to reach his 43rd major semi-final, eighth at the clay court major and become, at the age of 37, the oldest grand slam semi-finalist in 28 years – since Jimmy Connors aged 39 in 1991.
While the Swiss icon is chasing his second French Open title after shunning the event these past four years, his opponent, the defending champion Rafa Nadal, looking to collect his 12th trophy, blitzed his way past a weary Kei Nishikori 6-1 6-1 6-3.
The stats show that if any of the two had an edge it would be the Spaniard who leads the Swiss 23-15 overall and 13-2 on clay.
However, Federer has won their last five matches but, against that, Nadal has won all their five meetings at Roland Garros, their last being the 2011 final.
“The complete dream would be to win the tournament,” said Federer. “Other players won’t agree. It will be difficult, but I believe it anyway.
“It was hard, really, really hard. Stan played a really good match.”
He certainly did. Wawrinka saved 16 of 18 break points as he held of the world number three as he frustrated Federer for most of the time. The rain break proved the turning point for on their return it was Federer who took control to finish off the match.
Bearing in mind his absence from the clay court swing these past few years, he has shown some excellent from as his arrival in the last four testifies, dropping just one set as he progressed through hs quarter of the draw.
Nadal, who turned 33 on Monday, has also lost just one set but has hardly been troubled as he chases his 12th French title and close the gap of Federer in the all-time list of grand slam titles won, to two.
It will the 39th meeting between the two rivals and Nadal’s 91st win at Roland Garros in what proved a one-sided affair against Nishikori who was still suffering from the expended effort in the previous round of beating local hero Benoit Pair in five sets over two days. He had in fact spent four more hours on curt than the Spaniard and it wasn’t surprising he required treatment to his racket arm after the second set.
The 29-year-old Nishikori managed just nine winners in total in the first two sets.
Nishikori’s mood darkened much like the dark clouds which rolled in as he slipped to 4-1 down in the third when he called for the trainer again.
The subsequent break to allow the bad weather through only briefly delayed the results for Nadal required just nine-minutes to close it out following their resumption.
“It’s a great satisfaction to be in another semi-final, there are lots of emotions,” said Nadal on reaching his 31st slam semi-final.
“My level has been very good throughout the tournament and I am happy to be able to come back and play another day.”