Those recent successes (two this season alone and from a set down both times) over Djokovic should give him the belief, but will that negate his nerves in a Wimbledon semi final on Centre Court? It was a joy to play against Rafa at Roland Garros [where Nadal won their semi-final in straight sets on his favored clay]. Federer and Nadal will battle on center court for the first time in 11 years in the semifinals Friday in London.
The big three in men's tennis have all made it safely through to the semi-finals of Wimbledon.
Nadal, of course, is still a ball-retrieving, shot-whipping machine at the back of the court.
"Playing against Roger is always a unique situation". With his idol Rod Laver looking on from the Royal Box, Federer raised his level of play after looking less than sharp at the outset and cruised to a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 victory.
Here are four reasons why Nadal will put it across Federer and move into his sixth Wimbledon final. He was tested in a rare second-round grudge match against Nick Kyrgios, who was as Nick Kyrgios as ever, but the set he dropped then remains the only one he's dropped thus far.
Federer alluded to that too, after his fourth-round win against Matteo Berrettini, a big-serving Italian who managed only three aces in a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 demolition. Nishikori won the ninth game. As soon as the draw was released, you knew that, barring something abnormal, the final would feature Djokovic and the victor of the Federer/Nadal semi.
Rather ominously though, for the Spaniard, Novak Djokovic destroyed David Goffin for the loss of just six games across the three sets competed - including a second set bagel - and Bautista-Agut meets the world number one in the first semi-final today, scheduled at 1300 United Kingdom time. "I stay calm", said Federer, whose ability to stay ice cool under pressure seemed to be the only part of his game still functioning in the first set. If you serve the wrong spots at the same time and he's able to connect.
He's struck me as the sort of player that doesn't truly believe in himself at elite level, similarly to Goffin and many others, and I'd find it hard to have any faith in him causing a shock in these circumstances. It'll likely be determined by who serves better and who wins a higher percentage of second-serve points. Querrey began the game with an ace against the Spaniard. Again serving for that set at 6-5, he erased a trio of break points for Querrey before holding - and finally was on his way.
Nadal downplayed the suggestion they had improved appreciably, describing their respective evolution as a zero-sum game in which each had added elements to his game to compensate for what age has taken away.
Nadal emerged triumphant that day, winning in five sets in a four-hour 48-minute epic of fluctuating fortunes that stretched out over seven hours because of constant, momentum-shifting rain interruptions.
Nadal used a forehand victor to earn a 1-0 lead in the third set.
Incredibly, Bautista-Agut's numbers this tournament have been even better than Djokovic, and some readers are probably wondering why I'm not thinking of recommending Bautista-Agut on the game handicap here. Querrey fired another ace to win the third game, before Nadal claimed the next three games to take a 5-1 lead in the set.
"He could win the tournament", Querrey said. "He didn't play a warmup tournament coming in, so he's probably fresh and feeling good".