Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer met 40 times between 2004 and 2019. Nadal managed 24 wins but Roger had the advantage in the closing stages of their incredible rivalry. The Swiss defeated the Spaniard in Basel in 2015 and started his remarkable seriousness against a great rival.
Federer has beaten Nadal in six of their last seven encounters, including their last Wimbledon encounter three years ago. Roger won just nine games against Rafa in the Roland Garros semifinals a month earlier and he didn’t like his chances at beloved Wimbledon either.
Federer’s coach Ivan Ljubicic said they had to reassure him that he could beat Nadal on grass, with the whole team doing their best to make him feel less inferior. As it turned out, all was going well for Roger, who beat Rafa 7-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in three hours and two minutes to earn a spot in his last Major final.
Firing 51 winners and 27 unforced errors, Federer played aggressive tennis and restarted from set number three to emerge at the front. Chasing his first Wimbledon final since 2011, Rafa hit 32 winners and 25 penalties and missed his chance in the closing stages of the fourth set.
There were two breaks of serve on each side and Federer saved his winning returns for sets three and four when it mattered most. Both players served well in the opener and Rafa denied the only break chance in game eight after pushing the rival’s backhand to the limit.
The set went into a tiebreak and Nadal opened up a 3-2 lead. Suddenly, Federer grabbed five points in a row and closed the set with a forehand down the line for a massive boost. Rafa stayed focused, breaking at serve 2-1 in the second set to extend the advantage.
Roger Federer beat Rafael Nadal in his last match on the tour.
The Spaniard broke again in the sixth game after the Swiss forehand and completed the set a few minutes later to make it 6-1. Federer restarted in the third set, firing 15 winners and two unforced errors to keep the pressure on at the other end.
He broke Nadal for the first time in the fourth game with a volley winner to lead 3-1. Roger forced the rival’s error in game nine to win the set 6-3 and near the finish line after two hours and six minutes.
Federer made the crucial break at 1-1 in the fourth set and looked good to seal the deal from there. Rafa gambled away game points when the score was 3:5 and experienced a match point. He saved it with a service winner and held to close the gap and keep his chances alive.
Federer served 5-4 to win, playing a loose smash to face a break point. Denying it after Nadal’s backhand error, he sealed the deal on the fifth match point in a massive celebration. “The 2019 Wimbledon semi-final win over Rafael Nadal is one of Roger’s triumphs that I cherish the most.
Roger was worried and under pressure. He felt inferior and we had to reassure him that he was capable of winning. I cried after this game and it was a very emotional moment,” said Ivan Ljubicic.