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Rafael Nadal tops Roger Federer, extends hard-court streak to 13 wins

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Rafael Nadal continued his unbeaten string on hard courts in 2013 ith a win over Roger Federer in the Cincinnati quarterfinals. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal continued his unbeaten string on hard courts in 2013 with a win over Roger Federer in the Cincinnati quarterfinals. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

MASON, Ohio — In their 31st career meeting, Rafael Nadal came back from a set down Friday night to defeat defending champion Roger Federer 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open. The win extends Nadal’s hard-court streak to 13 wins, while the loss will drop Federer to No. 7 in the ATP rankings next week, his lowest ranking in more than 11 years.

Federer rebounded from a poor match against Tommy Haas in the third round to come out firing against his old rival. Federer’s serve and forehand were clicking early as Nadal struggled to get into his service games. Federer played his best tennis in nearly three months in the first set, as he held his serve easily and finally broke Nadal to set up the win. Nadal, who hasn’t lost a match on a hard court in 2013, wrenched back control of the match in the second set and then cruised in the third, racing to a 3-0 lead and holding on for the win.

Nadal said the key to the turnaround was his ability to find the right return position on Federer’s serve, and as the match wore on he was able to find his rhythm on his forehand. “I think my movement starts to be better, more intens[e],” Nadal said. “I started to put more balls inside on the return, and I started to have more … control of the ball from the baseline with my forehand, something that didn’t happen the first set and a half. But the match was there. It was very close. He had a good chance in the second. I think I played a good few points in important moments.”

Nadal credited Federer’s aggressive play for causing him problems. “He played very aggressive, [took] the ball very early all the time,” Nadal said.  “I just felt a little bit slow at the beginning, and it was very difficult to find my rhythm. But I will repeat:  It’s because Roger did a lot of things very well.” Nadal will face No. 6 Tomas Berdych in Saturday’s semifinal, after Berdych defeated Andy Murray 6-3, 6-4.

As for Federer, it was a confidence-boosting loss. Coming into the match Federer had yet to find his best form since winning a grass court tournament in Halle, Germany in June. Conventional wisdom was that he would be no match for an in-form Nadal, who won the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada last week. “I mean, not totally unhappy about the match,” Federer said. “I could have played a bit better, but at times I think I was playing well and tactics were working.”

With the U.S. Open just 10 days away, Federer said his body has responded well through eight sets of tennis this week and he goes into New York in a positive state of mind. He dismissed any concern about his ranking, adding that he’s more concerned about finding his best tennis in time for the last Slam of the year. “I know my body’s fine and my mind’s OK, so that’s two good things looking ahead.”

“I’m happy with my progress along the way,” Federer continued. “Could have won tonight, should have won tonight, who knows? But at the end, I think Rafa’s confidence and the way he’s playing at the moment got him through. So for me, I think it was a good step in the right direction. My mind’s already totally geared into what I’m going to do tomorrow, next day and the following day, and, you know, looking ahead at the U.S. Open. So I’m excited about the next sort of 10 days.”

  • Published On Aug 16, 2013
  • 3 comments
    MichaelC
    MichaelC

    At this point in Fed's career, a lot has to go "right" for him to find success against the better players. He needs the conditions to be fast, the weather to be tame (his margin for error is does not bode well in windy conditions), and his game to click early on - like his match  against Rafa where he played clean, aggressive tennis. Against Rafa, Nole, and Murray - who essentially get everything back in play - this is critical. But again, no biggee. It's great to see him healthy and still maintaining a high level of play. At 32, whatever he achieves in present and future is a mere compliment to an already GOAT-ish career. He loves NY and NY loves him - so hopefully he can play well, get a good draw (cough cough Ferrer's quarter), and find build some momentum.

    cdns211
    cdns211

    Tough loss for Roger. Started on such a good note. Was looking better than he ever had since AO. And that last point was just unfortunate. Cinci is better for Roger's game than most surfaces, except perhaps for indoors at this time, so Fed fans were hoping for a reversal, alas it was not to be.


    Not sure how many more wins he will have on Rafa in the future; perhaps if they play indoors, yes, but giving up a match in Cinci was rough. However, his form and confidence coming into this match were very patchy, so expectation was low as well.


    Good luck for USO, ROger