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Federer: "I enjoyed clay court season and Roland Garros"

“I think I surprised myself maybe with how deep I got in this tournament and how well I actually was able to play throughout. I definitely enjoyed the clay-court season and Roland Garros.”

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Federer wins fourth Miami Open title

Roger Federer produced a championship masterclass under the Florida sun, dominating reigning champ John Isner 6-1, 6-4 to win his fourth Miami title.

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Federer makes history in Dubai, wins 100th title

Roger Federer made history at the Dubai Duty Free Championships, defeating reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 to win his 100th tour-level title.

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Federer in fine form as Switzerland win Hopman Cup

Roger Federer became the most successful player in Hopman Cup history when he led Switzerland to a 2-1 win in an enthralling final of the mixed teams tournament in Perth.

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Federer becomes oldest ATP World No.1

Roger Federer guaranteed his return to No.1 in the ATP Rankings after beating Robin Haase 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 to reach the semi-finals of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

Federer wins 10th Halle title

Roger Federer made history on Sunday in Halle, defeating David Goffin 7-6 (2), 6-1 to win a record 10th Noventi Open title. It is the first time that Federer has earned 10 crowns at one tournament, joining Rafael Nadal as the only men in the Open Era to accomplish the feat.

"It’s amazing. For some reason I didn’t think I was going to make it anymore. Didn’t think of it much. I just thought match-for-match because the second round and quarters were so tough that I never really thought about how it would feel if I won and now it’s reality," Federer said. "It’s the first time ever I could win a title 10 times in one place, so it’s obviously a very special moment in my career."

This is Federer’s 102nd tour-level title, moving to within seven trophies of Jimmy Connors' record of 109. It is also the Swiss star’s 19th tour-level victory on grass.

Only four other active players own at least 19 titles on all surfaces combined. Federer is also the oldest tour-level champion since 43-year-old Ken Rosewall won at 1977 Hong Kong, giving him plenty of momentum as he heads to Wimbledon to pursue his ninth title at the grass-court Grand Slam.

No. 10 in Halle didn’t come easily, though. Federer had to battle through two three-setters in his first three matches of the week. And Goffin, who despite only winning one of eight previous ATP Head to Head meetings against the top seed, had shown his ability to beat Federer on a big stage by doing so in the semi-finals of the 2017 ATP Finals.

Goffin looked comfortable in early rallies, especially those of the backhand-to-backhand variety. Federer began to run around his backhand to strike forehands even more than he usually does. And at 2-2 in the opener, the Belgian earned three consecutive break points. But he missed a return and then made two straight forehand errors to let slip those chances.

And although Federer did not earn a break point in the first set, he was able to serve his way to a tie-break. The top seed then significantly raised his level, and at 3/1 he even hit a half-volley winner off a strong return from Goffin, later winning the set when the Belgian launched a forehand return long.

"He was the better player for probably the first 10 games of the match. He had more chances. He had big chances, too," Federer said. "Then I played a really good tie-break."

Federer maintained his level from there, immediately pressuring the 28-year-old’s serve to start the second set, and earning the break when Goffin dumped a double fault into the net. The World No. 3 was relentless from there, earning a second break at 3-1 when Goffin sliced a forehand long.

"I was able to run away with the lead getting the break early on in the second and I think that maybe calmed down my nerves," Federer said. "His level might have dropped just a tiny bit, but it was tough to play with the shadows, it’s a fast court. David of course also had a great week, so clearly he was feeling it from the baseline. But I was able to tough it out and at the end I was able to really play some great tennis, so I couldn’t be happier right now."

Federer is now 68-7 in Halle, and those 68 victories are his second-most for an event that is not a Grand Slam, trailing only his hometown tournament in Basel, where he has won 71 matches. In 17 Halle appearances, Federer has never failed to advance to at least the quarter-finals.

Federer is the first player to claim three tour-level titles in 2019. He also owns a 32-4 record, and his 88.9 winning percentage is the best of anyone on the ATP Tour. That puts him in a strong position heading into Wimbledon.

"Every time I’ve won in Halle, I went on to play really well at Wimbledon. It’s never a guarantee of course, but I’ve been on the Tour for long enough to know what it means," Federer said. "Most important is I know I’m injury-free. I’m going to have a couple of days off I guess and then get ready once I’m going to be at Wimbledon practising again. But for now I’m going to enjoy this one, rest up a little bit, and then look forward to the rest."

Federer first competed in Halle as an 18-year-old in 2000. No player from that singles draw still competes on the ATP Tour. Federer’s coach, Ivan Ljubicic, and Goffin’s coach, Thomas Johansson, played the Noventi Open that year.

Date: 23 June 2019, Source: ATP

Federer faces Goffin in his 13th Halle final

Roger Federer defeated Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-3, 6-3 to reach his 13th final in Halle, the most in the ATP 500 event’s history. The World No. 3 will face David Goffin in the championship match, an opportunity for the Swiss to claim his 10th title here. If Federer accomplishes the feat, it will be the first time he has lifted 10 trophies at a single tournament.

"It is very, very special. I am glad I got another chance this year, because last year I really didn't know if I would ever play another Halle final," Federer said.

"It’s great. I thought it was a very solid performance from me. I didn’t struggle on serve and when I had my opportunities on the return, I was able to take them. I was just really focussed, a point-for-point mentality. I think that is what’s going to get me over the line tomorrow."

The 101-time tour-level titlist also has an opportunity to move closer to Jimmy Connors’ record of 109 tour-level trophies. If Federer emerges victorious against Goffin, it will be the 16th time he has claimed at least three tour-level crowns in a season.

Federer, now 67-7 in Halle, had to battle through two three-setters to make the last four. But playing Herbert for the first time, Federer broke serve three times and did not face a break point, winning 88 of his service points en route to a 63-minute triumph.

"I was able to find some good energy today, especially in the important moments, because the past couple days have been tough," Federer said. "It’s been a lot of tennis, so this is maybe exactly what I need going into the final."

Federer set the tone by breaking in his first return game of the match, and he never looked back from there. It is the first match this week in which the 37-year-old did not face break point.

Herbert, the No. 43 player in the ATP Rankings, typically plays the role of the aggressor, trying to move into net and use his strong volleying to take points into his own hands. But Federer used a dagger-like backhand slice at times to bring the Frenchman into the forecourt on the Swiss' terms, making it more comfortable for Federer and less so for Herbert.

The top seed takes his ATP Head to Head series lead of 7-1 into the final against Goffin, including a straight-sets victory here in Halle three years ago. In Federer’s seven victories against the Belgian, Goffin has won a total of one set. But the 28-year-old earned one of the biggest wins of his career by upsetting Federer in the semi-finals of the 2017 ATP Finals.

"He’s a great guy. I really like his game. He’s got one of the best backhand in the game. He is super fast on his feet and he’s got great footing on a court that’s really difficult," Federer said. "He played a great match against Berrettini today to stop his run and also against Zverev. I watched that match and that was mighty impressive. So I think I’m going to have a tough final, anyway at this stage, but particularly against David, who I have a lot of respect for."

Date: 22 June 2019, Source: ATP

Federer hoping to avoid three sets in Halle semifinal

Roger Federer said he was hoping for some easier victories after a battling 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut to reach the last four of the ATP event in Halle for the 15th time.

World number three Federer is chasing a record-extending tenth title on the Halle grass as he warms up for Wimbledon next month, but has had to scrap to stay in the tournament this week.

He prevailed in a gruelling three-set encounter with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Thursday, and was taken the distance again by Bautista Agut in Friday's quarter-final.

"My body is reacting well to the grass, so I would prefer the matches to be shorter. But if not, it's no problem. I have enough time to recover before Wimbledon," said Federer.

The Swiss improved his ATP Head to Head against Bautista Agut to 9-0.

"Roberto is a top player and he has beaten top guys before, played good at big events, gives the best players a hard time and beats them sometimes. You’ve got to expect him to come out there and play a tough match," said Federer. "He’s able to stay in the rallies on the grass court and he has a very dangerous forehand. I’m not surprised about the tough match and enjoyed the battle."

The Swiss next faces Andy Murray's Wimbledon doubles partner Pierre-Hugues Herbert in Saturday's semi-finals.

"I know Pierre-Hugues well. He returns well and looks to get to the net, which makes him a great grass player," said Federer.

Herbert won the first set of his quarter-final 7-5 against reigning champion Borna Coric, before the Croatian retired with a back problem.

The 28-year-old Frenchman said that he felt an "unbelievable energy" going into his first-ever meeting with Federer.

"It will be unbelievable for me to face Roger. I have played against Nadal, against Djokovic, against Murray, but never against him. It was a dream come true," said Herbert.

Date: 21 June 2019, Source: AFP and ATP

Federer beats Tsonga to reach Halle QF

Roger Federer held off some of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's best hitting to reach his 17th Noventi Open quarter-final on Thursday and keep alive his hopes for a record-extending 10th title in Halle. Federer advanced past Tsonga 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-5 in another high-octane contest between the two veterans who both hit their full strides at times inside Gerry Weber Stadion.

I had a bit of everything, happiness, sadness, frustration,” Federer said. “At the end I got very close and maybe also a little lucky. You have to be. Because at 5-all in the third on grass, on a court like this, against Jo Willi, you’re not really controlling things anymore. It was close but the crowd was fantastic. Obviously it was a great emotion at the end, which was nice.”

Tsonga had beaten Federer during their only prior grass-court meeting, coming back from two sets down in the 2011 Wimbledon quarter-finals. But the Swiss started well and looked to be en route to another straight-sets win in Germany after he converted his third set point in the opener and broke to start the second.

The top seed ran around a Tsonga second serve and belted an inside-in forehand winner down the line to gain the set and break lead. He was at his aggressive best all match, coming forward often and ending the point with swinging volleys. Federer won 16 of his 27 trips to the net (59%).

But Tsonga found his characteristic big groundstrokes in time to break in the sixth and 10th games of the second set, punishing forehands that Federer couldn't handle at net. The two were on serve until the 11th game of the deciding set, when Federer, as the fans screamed for the nine-time champion, raised his level to break once more. He ended their 18th contest with his seventh ace.

Jo was able to pick up his game and do better especially on the return,” Federer said. “I thought it was tough but for me, the key was clearly to stay positive because I wasn't down in the score, it was just only even at one-set all, and I fought as much as I could and tried to stay with him because he really was able to pick up his game.

I always knew it was going to be tight because he has got a great first serve. He's got all the chances to hit great forehands. He remains dangerous throughout, and I knew obviously once I gave away that lead things will get very, very tight and they did. It was a great match, great atmosphere. I really enjoyed it.”

Federer now leads their ATP Head to Head series 12-6.

The Swiss will next meet Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist (2007, 2015) Richard Gasquet of France 6-1, 6-4. Federer is 8-0 against Bautista Agut, which includes a straight-sets win at 2015 Wimbledon, their only grass-court encounter. Bautista Agut has won only one of their 19 sets.

Roberto wins his points differently than Jo does. Jo does it with the serve and forehand and the power and the variety and his explosiveness, whereas Roberto does it through just doing the same thing in repetition, and he's also got a great forehand like Jo has,” Federer said.

From my side, I might have more play from the baseline, but then again we might be in more rallies on my serve, too. I'm looking forward to it. I have a good head-to-head against him and I’ve beaten him at Wimbledon once on the grass before. I hope that's going to give me some confidence.”

Date: 20 June 2019, Source: ATP

Federer off to winning start in Halle

Roger Federer began his bid for a record-extending 10th Halle Open title with a 7-6 (1), 6-3 win over Australia's John Millman on Tuesday, with defending champion Borna Coric also advancing.

Federer, who lost to Coric in last year's final, hit nine aces and saved the only break point he faced to beat Millman in 1 hour, 17 minutes.

“I always think any way you get through is a good way because the next match will always feel different. I think with John having beaten me at the US Open, I knew it was going be tough. So thankfully I wasn’t too nervous. I think I had a clear game plan. I knew that it was going to be more difficult for him to dominate the baseline. Conditions are faster here so I’m able to control the tempo of the match a little bit more.

“It is always important to win your first match on grass, because otherwise the grass season can be very short,” Federer said.

Federer next faces Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who defeated French compatriot Benoit Paire 6-4, 7-5 at the grass-court tournament. He leads his rivalry with Tsonga 11-6, but the Frenchman has won their past two matchups - at 2016 Monte Carlo and 2014 Canada. The two have played on grass only once, a five-set win for Tsonga in the 2011 Wimbledon quarter-finals.

Federer already has the best grass-court record in the Open era with 18 titles, and the 37-year-old can set a personal record with his 10th at a single event in Halle.

Date: 18 June 2019, Source: AP and ATP

Federer: "I'm fresh, rested and ready for grass court season"

Despite topping the list for most trophies on the surface, 18-time grass titlist Roger Federer admitted the short nature of the grass-court season provides a unique challenge ahead of the Noventi Open in Halle.

"The pressure is high for me too. The grass-court season is extremely short," said Federer. "There is not that much I can do to get into it as well, other than have that point-for-point mentality. My focus needs to be crystal clear and that is what I need to have from the get-go here as I play John Millman in the first round, who has been a tough one for me in the past."

Fresh from his semi-final run at Roland Garros, the World No. 3 will face extra pressure in his opening match on the surface this year against Millman, as the Aussie stunned Federer in four sets in the fourth round of last year’s US Open.

However, Federer is a nine-time champion in Halle. Also a nine-time Swiss Indoors Basel titlist, Federer has reached the quarter-finals or better in each of his previous 16 appearances in Halle and will be keen to go one step further than his runner-up finish to Borna Coric last year. Federer owns a 9-3 record in Halle championship matches and a 63-7 tournament record.

"I think I look back down memory lane a little bit here," said Federer. "I see how many good moments I've had here, I see how much success I've had. The fan interaction is special. I feel like we know eachother, they know what they get from me and I know what to expect from them. It makes me feel really good and makes me play good tennis."

Federer arrives in Halle after competing on clay for the first time since 2016. The 101-time tour-level titlist reached quarter-finals at ATP Masters 1000 events in Rome and Madrid, before a semi-final run at Roland Garros.

"I feel great, to be honest. I am happy to be on the grass, regardless of if I played good or bad on the clay, or if I didn't play at all," said Federer. "I always feel happy coming to this surface and this part of the season. I have always loved playing here in Halle for so many years. This is my 17th time playing this event."

Due to his participation on the European clay, Federer's grass-court preparations have been abbreviated in comparison to 2017 and 2018. In the past two years, the Swiss returned to action a week earlier at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart following a three-month break after the Miami Open.

"Compared to the past few years, I have had much less time to prepare for the grass-court season," said Federer. "Not having played on clay in 2017 and 2018, I had plenty of time. So, I don't want to say I feel stressed, but the transition was definitely faster than in the past few years."

But Federer's efforts on the red dirt have given the World No. 3 plenty of reasons for positivity. The nine-time Halle champion notched nine wins from 11 tour-level encounters on the surface, with his only losses coming against Dominic Thiem in Madrid and Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.

"I was really positive about my clay-court swing. I lost against the best clay-court player ever, so there is no shame there," said Federer. "I tried everything I had and we played in unbelievably windy conditions. It was really challenging. I loved it actually, to play Rafa in that situation, the way it was. But I left Paris very positively."

With a new surface, there is a new challenge. But there aren't many challenges more familiar to Federer than playing on grass. The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who owns an 87.1 per cent win percentage on the surface (176-26), shared his thoughts on how grass elevates his game to new heights.

"Grass highlights my strength and it maybe hides my weaknesses. From that standpoint, I can play how I want, on my terms, how I would like. When you feel that way, it is maybe what Rafa feels on the clay. I have all the options and when you have options, it gives you options to win and different tactics you can use against different players. That gives you maybe that little bit more margin you need to stay out of trouble and win matches.

"I feel fresh, rested and ready for the grass season now," said Federer, who will target a ninth Wimbledon win in July.

"The surface suits me. I like the intuitive, aggressive game. Matches on grass are often decided in a few rallies. You have to stay awake and concentrated. Winning the tournament always has to be my goal in Halle."

Date: 16 June 2019, Source: ATP

Nadal: "Federer is the best player in history"

Rafael Nadal hailed Roger Federer as "the best player in history" after blowing his old rival away in the Paris wind to reach a 12th French Open final. Federer felt the full force of the 11-time Roland Garros champion with the storm fast approaching on Friday.

Defending champion Nadal won 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 with winds of up to 130 kilometres per hour gusting on Court Philippe Chatrier. The wind barely dropped all match with both players buffeted throughout, and rubbing grit from their eyes from time to time.

Nadal had not beaten the 20-time Grand Slam winner in their last five matches, a run stretching back five years and, despite taking just two hours and 25 minutes to down the Swiss great, the second seed said it was by no means straightforward.

"It was a pleasure to play Roger. It was a high level all three sets, which was remarkable in this wind. It's incredible, congratulations to Roger. He is incredible to play at this level aged 37," Nadal said in his on-court interview after ending Federer's first French Open appearance for four years.

"He is the best player in history and it's been a great pleasure to play against Roger. Him and me know each other. We played many times against each other. But these are matches where we can always find this small plus, this additional shot.

"And when I play against Roger, I always expect the best from him."

Date: 8 June 2019, Source: Omnisport and Reuters

Federer: "I enjoyed clay court season and Roland Garros"

Roger Federer has played 1,472 ATP Tour matches and faced hundreds of opponents throughout his 21-year career. But after his 3-6, 4-6, 2-6 Roland Garros semi-final loss to Rafael Nadal, his sixth to the Spaniard at this event, he admitted his clay-court battles against the 11-time champion are unmatched in difficulty.

“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. “I don't even know who I need to go search for to go practice with somebody who plays like him. It's just amazing how he plays from deep and then is able to bounce back and forth from the baseline.”

The Swiss star powered into the semi-finals for the first time since 2012. Competing with a larger racquet head for the first time at the second major of the year, Federer’s backhand had more bite than in previous visits and allowed for even greater success in rushing the net. He won 127 of 175 net points (72.6%) in his first five rounds and went to the net 60 times in his quarter-final victory over Stan Wawrinka.

But Federer’s trips to the net on Friday had two things working against him. Not only does Nadal love a target, but brutal winds topping 39 miles per hour slowed his approaches and enabled the Spaniard to comfortably rip passing shots. Federer won just 17 of 35 net points (48%) on the day.

“I think the first set was mostly about getting used to conditions,” said Federer. “It was incredibly windy. Especially for a big match like this for both of us, it's just really complicated. So you're trying to see how much can you do or can you not do? Are you playing flatter or with more spin? Are you keeping the ball in play? Are you going for stuff? I think that was basically the story of the first set, more or less.

“Second set, I think there is definitely a big regret to get broken at 2-0 with the wind on my back,” said Federer. “If I can avoid that one, maybe the second set turns out to be different. But I think holding serve against the wind with Rafa's quality on the return is just really hard. He barely misses any.

“And then when he's in the rally, he plays with great spin on the forehand, great sort of control on the backhand side. So it's just really hard to find holes, especially in the wind, if you're trying to hit through the ball, which is really difficult, actually. But it was windy for both. He was better, no doubt about it. But I had maybe mini chances today, but they were not big enough to win today.

“You get to a point where you're just happy to make shots and not look ridiculous. It's that bad,” said Federer of the swirling winds. “There is also no way to practice in these conditions. It's all a mindset. It's footwork. It was difficult, but I accept that. He played in an incredible way. He has incredible abilities on clay. I knew that ahead of time.”

Despite the loss, Federer can consider his clay-court season a success. Before the start of the clay season, the Swiss admitted being unsure if he remembered how to slide on the surface after not competing on it for three years. He finished it with a 9-2 record, only losing to Nadal and Dominic Thiem. Federer also got 1,080 ATP Rankings points during this stretch, cementing his position at No. 3 and moving him closer to catching Nadal at No. 2.

The always vocal Parisian fans showed their appreciation at having the chance to watch Federer for the first time since 2015, showering him with even more adoration than he typically received over the years on Court Philippe Chatrier. The love from the crowd made the 20-time Grand Slam champion hint that his return to clay will become a staple in his final years on tour.

“I thought it was a great tournament. I really enjoyed it. Crowd support couldn't have been better. Maybe one of the best ever in my entire 20-year career that I have been on tour at a Grand Slam,” said Federer. “They were always there for me, supporting me in practice, at the matches, on the grounds whenever I came and showed up. They were always happy to see me. So that was nice.

“I think I surprised myself maybe with how deep I got in this tournament and how well I actually was able to play throughout. Next year, just like with any other tournament, I don't know. We'll see what happens. But I definitely enjoyed the clay-court season and Roland Garros, so that would help the chances to return to the clay. It's not like it's been a shocker. So from that standpoint, it's okay.”

Date: 7 June 2019, Source: ATP

Federer says the road to clay glory goes through Nadal

If you're left-handed, currently in Paris and can break a nasty serve wide to the ad court, you might just be who Roger Federer is looking for.

Deep into the second week of Roland Garros, options for lefty practice partners are somewhat limited. But Federer is in need of lefty practice partners during the next two days as he prepares for his blockbuster Friday semi-final against arch rival Rafael Nadal.

Looking forward to their 39th ATP Head to Head meeting, Federer said that playing Nadal at Roland Garros was a massive challenge despite his own excellent form that he will take into the match.

“With Rafa, particularly on clay, you have to be aware of his strengths, what he brings to the table. And on top of it, because he's a left-hander, it just changes everything,” Federer said.

“I have two days, which I guess is a good thing. It's better than one. It's better than none. So from that standpoint, I get more left-handed practice, more serves and all that stuff.

“Because I guess I have played five guys now that are righties, so for me it's a complete switch-around. Just the way the ball goes out of your strings with the different spins, it's just different. So you have to get used to that quickly. Don't have much time to waste.

“That's why you have to be fearless to some extent to take on the spinny balls, the sliding balls, the kicking balls, and that's what I will do on Friday.”

Nadal and Federer have met just once on clay in the past eight years: in 2013 in Rome. And they have not met on clay since Federer switched to a larger racquet head, which offers more protection against Nadal’s signature crosscourt forehand, which historically has haunted Federer on the dirt.

Although Federer is a modest 2-13 against Nadal on clay - including 0-5 at Roland Garros - the Swiss said that he believes he has a chance to advance to the final. On the upside, the Swiss is on a five-match winning streak against Nadal, the longest run in his favour in their rivalry, which Nadal leads 23-15.

“Like against any player, there is always a chance. Otherwise nobody will be in the stadium to watch because everybody already knows the result in advance,” Federer said. “And I think sport does that to you, that every match needs to be played before it's decided.

“And that's exactly what everybody believes by facing Rafa. They know it's going to be tough. But you just never know. He might have a problem. He might be sick. You never know. You might be playing great or for some reason he's struggling. Maybe there's incredible wind, rain, 10 rain delays. You just don't know. That's why you need to put yourself in that position.

“For me to get to Rafa is not simple. It took five matches here for me to win to get there. That's why I'm very happy to play Rafa, because if you want to do or achieve something on the clay, inevitably, at some stage, you will go through Rafa, because he's that strong and he will be there.

“I knew that when I signed up for the clay that hopefully that's gonna happen. If I would have had a different mindset to avoid him, then I should not have played the clay. So I think by that mindset, I think it helped me to play so well so far this tournament.”

Date: 5 June 2019, Source: ATP

Federer beats Wawrinka, plays Nadal in Roland Garros semifinal

Roger Federer is competing at Roland Garros for the first time in four years, but it certainly hasn’t seemed like it this fortnight.

After a rain delay that lasted more than an hour, Federer surged past fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 in three hours and 35 minutes Tuesday, advancing to the semi-finals on the Parisian terre for the first time since 2012.

"I'm very happy, number one, to be back in another semi-finals of a Grand Slam. It hasn't happened in the past year or so. I had some tough losses in fourth rounds or quarters. So from that standpoint, I exceeded my expectations here," Federer said. "After missing the French for so many years, it's nice to be back in the semis, so that's a great feeling."

Federer seized early control against former World No. 3 Wawrinka, but the mishits and missed opportunities began to pile up for the 2009 titlist, as he suddenly was two Wawrinka holds away from going down two sets to one. But Federer remained calm and regained the momentum during the roller-coaster match by winning a crucial third-set tie-break, only for the adrenaline to wear off as threatening clouds sent the compatriots off the court.

Instead of faltering, though, Federer earned his second break of the match when they returned to court and after saving a break chance, punched a forehand volley into the open court to become the second-oldest man to make the semi-finals at Roland Garros, trailing only Pancho Gonzales, who was 40 in 1968.

Federer will next meet his greatest rival, 11-time champion Rafael Nadal, for the first time since 2017 Shanghai. They were set to battle in the semi-finals of this year’s BNP Paribas Open, but Nadal withdrew due to an injury. Their 39th ATP Head to Head clash (Nadal leads 23-15) will be their first on clay since 2013 Rome.

"Now I have the match with Rafa, and I'm clearly excited," Federer said. "I hope I can recover well in the next couple days, which I'm sure I will, and I'll give it my best shot on Friday."

Perhaps it’s fitting that Federer’s quarter-final victory came against Wawrinka, who ousted him in the last eight four years ago in straight sets. Federer now leads his good friend 23-3 in their ATP Head to Head, but entering the match the 37-year-old only had a 4-3 advantage on clay.

The third seed struggled converting break points, winning just 2 of 18 in the match, as Wawrinka consistently was aggressive to take matters into his own hands. But Federer held his nerve in the tie-breaks, dropping only two combined service points in both of them.

At the start of the match, Federer was cruising along on serve, using variety on the backhand side - going big, finding the short crosscourt angle, and varying the rhythm of rallies with a short chip - to play on his terms. But the 101-time tour-level titlist missed out on his first eight chances of the match as Wawrinka showed no fear in going for it under pressure.

Those missed chances nearly came back to haunt Federer, as Wawrinka, the three-time Grand Slam champion, converted his first two break points, using the first to win the second set and the next one to take a 4-3 lead in the third set. Suddenly, Federer began to mishit shots as he fell further behind the baseline, and Wawrinka added even more juice to his powerful strokes to overwhelm his compatriot in rallies and put more pressure on the World No. 3 to go for more from tougher positions.

But Wawrinka, who needed five hours and nine minutes to win his fourth-round match against reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, finally cracked at 4-3 in the third. In the seventh different game in which he faced a break point, the No. 24 seed decelerated on a low forehand approach shot near the service line, and the ball sailed well long to allow Federer back on serve.

And from there, Federer began to find his service rhythm and work his way back into rallies again, throwing in more drop shots and using a timely stretch backhand drop volley in the ensuing tie-break to take the lead before closing out the third set.

When the Swiss stars returned to Court Suzanne Lenglen at 3-3 in the fourth set, Federer made clear his intentions to run around his backhand to hit forehands on second-serve returns, after missing many backhand returns long earlier on. And that strategy paid dividends, as he broke for 5-4, before saving a break point with a reflexed drop volley and serving out his victory. Federer is the oldest major semi-finalist since 39-year-old Jimmy Connors at the 1991 US Open.

"It wasn't super explosive on clay, especially if he plays from far behind, and I also decided to play from far back. So we found a rhythm, which maybe okay for both of us. I don't know if it would have been better for me to play more to the front and take the ball sooner," Federer said. "But it worked, and I'm happy about that. But I'm not surprised he reached that level, because we know how strong he is both mentally and physically."

Wawrinka, who earned his 500th tour-level win with his third-round triumph against Grigor Dimitrov, was pursuing his fourth Roland Garros semi-final. The 34-year-old underwent two knee surgeries in August 2017, and he has been battling his way back into form ever since, falling as low as No. 263 in the ATP Rankings last June. Wawrinka will return to the Top 20 next Monday.

"Only a few points could have changed a little bit the match, but I think I was playing well in those moments. He was a bit more aggressive," Wawrinka said. "This court was quite fast and slippery. It was important to be aggressive, to be inside the court, and he did that better than me.

"He was playing the way I expect him to play against me and on clay court," Wawrinka added. "There is no surprise anymore in what we are doing. It's just about who's going to play the best in those important points, and he did that better than me today."

Date: 4 June 2019, Source: ATP