Head-to-head: 6 Fed, 11 Rafa
Last meeting: Roland Garros '08, Rafa 6-1, 6-3, 6-0
Weren't we just here recently? Oh yes, I remember it well though I'm sure Fed would probably want us to forget it. The two truly dominant ballers on the ATP Tour reasserted their places in the tennis heirarchy by systematically dissecting their draws with astounding precision. Top seed Roger Federer will look to make it six-in-a row, breaking Bjorn Borg's record, when he battles nemesis Rafael Nadal for the Wimbledon title.
How they got here: The top-ranked Swiss has looked in imperious form, even with a cardigan on, and has not gifted a set this fortnight. His latest victim was the resurgent Marat Safin, who never really believed in his chances and went down with a quick 6-3, 7-6 (3), 6-4 decision. Rafa was just as tidy in his dismissal of another resurgent baller, German Rainer Schuettler, booking his spot in the final by a similar scoreline of 6-1, 7-6 (3), 6-4.
Here's some of what Fed had to say about how Rafa's challenge:
He's made me improve, you know, just the approach, you know, playing against him. I was playing him quite differently in the beginning of my career. Well, the thing is also he's evolved as a player, started to play better. He's challenged me, you know, especially on I think clay for me. That was the major, major part of playing on Rafa on clay, it was the ultimate test for me, you know. I mean, I don't know how much he's helped me to play against other players. Playing him, because it's such a different dimension, such a different type of game, it's hard to really judge, you know. But I definitely feel like he's made me more tough, that's for sure.Rafa has this to say about facing the world no. 1:
Well, always a special feeling play against the No. 1, and especially against Roger, because, well, he plays specially, very nice all the time, very easy. Sometimes you distract watching his game, no?Outlook: This match, much like the ladies' final, is a true toss up. Both ballers are playing near-perfect tennis, showing that they are still head-and-shoulders above the rest of the tour when it comes to consistency, belief and championship mettle. Though Fed has yet to give up a set this fortnight, he'll be giving up at least one tomorrow though I think three is more likely.
We going to be play the sixth final in Grand Slam, so that's a lot important matches. Some more Masters Series finals, some important the rest finals. So sure it is a nice rivalry because we are No. 1 and No. 2. That's the main rivalry, because if someone is No. 1 and the other one is No. 5 doesn't matter, no? But for the last years we did well, and I hope continuing like this for a lot of years.
Rafa's game has lifted to new levels since he made the final in Miami, crushing the field during the clay-court swing and continuing his untouchable form onto the grass, winning at Queen's Club for his first title on the green stuff. He seems ready to take the top-ranking and that'll begin when he grabs his first Wimbledon title on Sunday.
(images via Getty)