PARIS, France – Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are closing in on a dream Roland Garros semi-final clash but standing in their way are Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka.
AFP Sport looks at Tuesday’s first two quarterfinals:
Rafael Nadal (ESP x2) v Kei Nishikori (JPN x7)
Head-to-head: Nadal leads 10-2
Nadal, the defending champion who turned 33 on Monday, racked up his 90th career win at Roland Garros when he swept past Juan Ignacio Londero in the last-16.
The 11-time winner has dropped just one set so far in his third round win over tricky Belgian David Goffin.
“When I was 18, thinking that I could still be here at the age of 33, it was probably something incredible and impossible to think about,” said Nadal, who made his Paris debut back in 2005 and is seeking his 12th semi-final spot.
While Nadal is in the quarter-finals in Paris for the 13th time, it will be a third appearance for Nishikori.
The Japanese star has had to come back from being a break down in the final set of his last two matches, both of which went to 5 sets.
He has lost all 4 of his career meetings with Nadal on clay.
“It’s going to be a tough match, he’s the greatest ever clay court player,” said Nishikori.
Roger Federer (SUI x3) v Stan Wawrinka (SUI x24)
Head-to-head: Federer leads 22-3
The two close friends have won 2008 Olympic gold and 2014 Davis Cup gold together.
“I have a bad memory of it. Stan beat me in 3 sets with his terrible shorts,” said Federer in reference to Wawrinka’s gaudy, checked shorts.
That defeat prompted Federer to call time on his French Open career until he decided to return this year.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion is the oldest Slam quarterfinalist in 28 years and will be playing in his 54th last-eight match at a Slam.
Wawrinka needed over 5 hours to see off sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round and he has spent almost twice the time on court getting this far than Federer.
“I didn’t beat him many times in my career, but I did once here, so I still do remember that time and was a special day for me,” said 34-year-old Wawrinka.
This time last year, three-time major winner Wawrinka slipped out of the world’s top 250 in the world after a first round loss in Paris.
Having undergone two knee surgeries in 2017, many in the sport thought he was done and dusted. – Rappler.com