London : Describing Rafael Nadal as his greatest rival, Swiss tennis maestro Roger Federer has admitted that he could never maintain a complete stranglehold over the Spaniard at the French Open, which is considered as the former’s stronghold.
Federer won his only Roland Garros title in 2009 after defeating Robin Soderling and lost four finals against Nadal, who earned the nickname King of Clay after winning the French Open for an unprecedented nine times.
“Sometimes I was outplayed, sometimes I was close, but never quite good enough to beat him at the French. But I never lost hope or faith that it could happen,” Federer was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
“For me, he has been (the greatest rival). It could still change if I play Novak another few times in bigger matches. Novak and I have obviously had really big matches, but somehow the match-up with Rafa will always stay unique – because of the Wimbledon final in 2008,” said the 17-time Grand Slam champion.
While referring to the epic 2008 Wimbledon finale, which is being widely regarded as one of the greatest matches in the history of tennis, Federer also revealed that he has found Nadal tougher to play than anybody, even Djokovic. “He’s a lefty – all that spin, we’ve not seen spin like that before. I had to change so many things to match him.”
Nadal eventually triumphed, beating Federer 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5-7), 6-7(8-10), 9-7 in a gruelling contest that lasted four hours and 48 minutes. The Spaniard leads their twelve-years-old rivalry with an overall head-to-head record of 23-11.
Quashing all rumours surrounding his impending retirement, the 34-year-old insisted that he was still capable of adding a few more majors to his shelf. “Is Djokovic now the man to beat? Absolutely. Does he deserve to be where he is? 100 per cent. But is he beatable? Yes, of course he is. I beat him last year three times.” (ANI)