clearn.png
Friday August 14th, 2020 11:01PM

Federer can't handle wind or Nadal in 3-set French Open loss

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

PARIS (AP) — It's rough enough for Roger Federer — well, let's be honest, anyone holding a tennis racket — to try to deal with Rafael Nadal's unflinching excellence on the French Open's red clay.

Mix in a wild wind, and Federer, so great for so long, against anyone else and anywhere else, morphed into merely good. And good, even Federer's brand of good, was not nearly enough Friday.

Nadal made quick work of Federer in their first meeting at Roland Garros since 2011, outperforming his rival 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in air whipping at more than 20 mph (12 kph) to reach his record 12th final in Paris as he pursues his record 12th championship.

This was Federer's most lopsided Grand Slam defeat since he gathered a measly four games in a loss to — guess who? — Nadal in the 2008 French Open title match.

"He makes you feel uncomfortable the way he defends the court and plays on clay. There is nobody who even plays remotely close to him," said Federer, who hadn't entered the tournament since 2015. "I don't even know who I need to go search for, to go practice with somebody who plays like him. I was thinking that during the match."

Nadal has never lost a semifinal at the clay-court major. Never lost a final, either. When told of those facts, Nadal replied, matter-of-factly: "It's incredible, being honest."

He's also never lost to Federer at Roland Garros, improving to 6-0. Overall, Nadal leads their series 24-15. Federer had won their past five meetings, but those were all on hard courts.

It's a whole different task to take on Nadal on clay, in general, and at the French Open, in particular, where he is 92-2 for his career.

In Sunday's final, the No. 2-seeded Nadal will play No. 1 Novak Djokovic or No. 4 Dominic Thiem. Their semifinal, played second Friday, was suspended for the day in the third set because of rain in the evening. Thiem was leading 6-2, 3-6, 3-1 when play was halted. About 45 minutes later, officials announced the match would resume Saturday. That means whoever wins would be competing for a fourth day in a row in the final against a well-rested Nadal.

This was the first time since 2011 the four top-seeded men were in the Roland Garros semifinals.

In the women's final Saturday, No. 8 Ash Barty will face unseeded 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic. It's the first time either has played for a major title.

Nadal, meanwhile, is bidding for his 18th. Among men, only Federer has more, with 20.

Like so many times before, it was Nadal's topspin-heavy lefty forehand, his relentless ball-chasing and his return game that gave Federer fits. Even frustrated the guy so much that the generally stoic Federer smacked a tennis ball toward the stands after getting broken to trail 2-1 in the third set.

It would soon be over.

"It's just amazing how he plays from deep and then is able to bounce back and forth from the baseline," Federer said. "I didn't play a poor two first sets, in my opinion. I thought Rafa really had to come up with the goods to make the difference, and the difference was a passing shot here, a pickup there."

Blithely put. The fact is, Nadal's passes and pickups — not to mention his reflexes — are not of this world.

More than once, he slid to his right, beyond the doubles alley, to extend a point by retrieving the seemingly irretrievable with a backhand, then followed it up by sprinting to his left for a jaw-droppingly precise forehand that flew out of Federer's reach and veered to land near a line.

And more than once, Nadal punctuated the point by pumping his fist and yelling, "Vamos!"

The wind was so unchecked that it knocked a tarp off its moorings behind a baseline. It tossed loose dirt from the court into both players' eyes, so much so that Federer joked it felt as if they were playing in a sandbox. There was also drizzle and temperatures of about 60 degrees (15 Celsius).

Enough to make one wish the retractable roof due to be installed before the 2020 French Open were already in place.

Even Nadal described the conditions as "so hard, so difficult to manage."

"It's just really complicated, you know," Federer said. "So you're trying to see how much can you do — or you cannot do. Are you playing flatter or with more spin? Are you keeping the ball in play? Are you going for stuff?"

With an aggressive, charge-to-the-net style, he had been broken a total of only four times by his first five opponents. But Federer was more hesitant against his nemesis, and Nadal won 6 of 13 return games.

The 37-year-old Federer was serenaded off the court by spectators' chants of his first name. He raised his right arm for a quick wave as he walked away — perhaps for the final time. He missed the tournament in 2016 with a bad back, then skipped the entire clay-court circuit the next two years to prepare for grass and hard courts.

"I surprised myself, maybe, how deep I got in this tournament and how well I actually was able to play throughout," Federer said. "And next year? Just like with any other tournament, I don't know. We'll see what happens."

For Nadal, this was the latest impeccable performance in a recent resurgence. He entered May without a title in 2019, his worst start to a season in 15 years.

But the 33-year-old Spaniard began finding his form at last month's Italian Open, beating Djokovic in that final.

In Paris, Nadal is up to his annual standards.

"He's been playing better and better every week," said Nadal's coach, Carlos Moya, the 1998 French Open champion. "He's been playing well in this moment, which is his main goal: Roland Garros."

One more victory to go for a dozen titles in Paris.

___

More AP tennis coverage: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Tennis, AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Sports - Men's Tennis, AP Sports - Women's Tennis
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Man arrested after threatening talk of Times Square attack
Authorities have arrested a New York man who talked about wanting to throw a grenade in Times Square
12:11PM ( 10 minutes ago )
The Latest: Officer gets 12½-year term for 911 caller death
Attorneys for a Minneapolis police officer convicted of murder in the shooting of an unarmed woman who had called 911 say it wouldn't do society any good to send him to prison
12:11PM ( 11 minutes ago )
White House says tariffs 'going forward' as talks continue
The White House says President Donald Trump's threatened tariffs on Mexico are "going forward" as planned Monday even as negotiators to try to stave off Trump's latest push to force Mexico to stem the flow of Central American migrants into the U.S.
12:10PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Djokovic-Thiem French Open match delayed again
The Latest at the French Open: There's another rain delay in the semifinal match between Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem
11:48AM ( 33 minutes ago )
The Latest: Djokovic-Thiem semi resumes after rain delay
The Latest at the French Open: Rain forces a brief suspension in the semifinal between top-ranked Novak Djokovic and No. 4 Dominic Thiem
11:41AM ( 40 minutes ago )
Nadal tops Federer in 3 sets to reach 12th French Open final
Nadal gains final, making quick work of Federer in their 1st French Open meeting since 2011
9:51AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Sports
Federer-Nadal showdown highlights French Open semifinals
All four French Open singles semifinals are scheduled on the same day and the most-anticipated matchup features Rafael Nadal against Roger Federer
1:51AM ( 10 hours ago )
The Latest: Djokovic reaches French Open semifinals
The Latest at the French Open: Novak Djokovic has reached the French Open semifinals
11:17AM ( 1 day ago )
Anisimova, 17, tops '18 French Open champ Halep in quarters
In latest French surprise, Amanda Ansimova, 17, upsets defending champ Simona Halep in quarters
11:01AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Tennis
Undone by Brexit, May steps down as Conservative leader
British Prime Minister Theresa May has formally stepped down as Conservative Party leader, defeated by the Brexit conundrum
11:29AM ( 52 minutes ago )
Pence: US 'encouraged' by Mexico's proposals as tariffs loom
Vice President Mike Pence says it's 'for the president to decide' whether Mexico is doing enough to avoid the 5% tariffs he's threatening to impose on Mexican goods
11:16AM ( 1 hour ago )
US, Russia blame each other in near-collision of warships
The U.S. and Russian militaries have accused each other of unsafe actions after an American guided-missile cruiser and a Russian destroyer came within 165 feet (50 meters) of each other in the East China Sea
11:05AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
US employers add just 75,000 jobs as unemployment stays 3.6%
US employers pulled back on hiring in May, adding just 75,000 jobs; unemployment stays a low 3.6%
9:25AM ( 2 hours ago )
Joe Biden reverses position on federal dollars for abortions
Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden says he can no longer support a congressional ban on using federal health care money to pay for abortions
9:01AM ( 3 hours ago )
US employers add a weak 75,000 jobs; unemployment stays 3.6%
US employers pulled back on hiring in May, adding just 75,000 jobs; unemployment stays a low 3.6%
8:42AM ( 3 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Paris in the springtime? French Open rainout sinks schedule
Rain washes out day's entire schedule at French Open for 2nd time since 2000, jumbling the schedule and creating the possibility of a delayed women's final
1:09PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: French Open women's final could be pushed back
The Latest at the French Open: Tournament director Guy Forget says it is possible that the women's singles final at Roland Garros could be delayed a day because of the rain that has jumbled the schedule
12:20PM ( 2 days ago )
The Latest: Last 4 QFs rescheduled; women's SFs moved
The Latest at the French Open: The French Open has rescheduled the four remaining singles quarterfinals and pushed the women's semifinals back a day, too.
11:37AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Sports - Men's Tennis
Konta sweeps Stephens off the court to reach French semis
Johanna Konta produced a remarkably dominant performance against Sloane Stephens in a 6-1, 6-4 victory to become the first British woman to reach the French Open semifinals since Jo Durie in 1983
3:46PM ( 2 days ago )
Federer seeks revenge vs. Wawrinka in French quarterfinals
Roger Federer has a chance to take a measure of revenge against friend and fellow Swiss player Stan Wawrinka in the French Open quarterfinals
2:42AM ( 3 days ago )
The Latest: Khachanov reaches first Grand Slam quarterfinal
The Latest on the French Open: Tenth-seeded Karen Khachanov points to his pregnant wife in the stands after concluding a 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory over No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal
3:56PM ( 3 days ago )
AP Sports - Women's Tennis
Man arrested after threatening talk of Times Square attack
Authorities have arrested a New York man who talked about wanting to throw a grenade in Times Square
12:11PM ( 10 minutes ago )
The Latest: Officer gets 12½-year term for 911 caller death
Attorneys for a Minneapolis police officer convicted of murder in the shooting of an unarmed woman who had called 911 say it wouldn't do society any good to send him to prison
12:11PM ( 11 minutes ago )
White House says tariffs 'going forward' as talks continue
The White House says President Donald Trump's threatened tariffs on Mexico are "going forward" as planned Monday even as negotiators to try to stave off Trump's latest push to force Mexico to stem the flow of Central American migrants into the U.S.
12:10PM ( 12 minutes ago )
University of Alabama trustees vote to refund $26M gift
The University of Alabama board of trustees vote to return a top donor's $26.5 million gift and strip his name from the law school
12:09PM ( 12 minutes ago )
The Latest: US investor under house arrest denied waiver
A U.S. investor under house arrest on embezzlement charges was denied a waiver to attend Russia's main business forum.
12:08PM ( 13 minutes ago )