Roger Federer suffered his worst Grand Slam mauling since 2008 at the hands of Rafael Nadal but hasn’t ruled out returning to Roland Garros in 2020 — when he will be almost 39 years old. Federer slumped to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 loss to the 11-time French Open champion in the semi-finals on Friday.
Nadal now leads his overall head-to-head against Federer 24-15, and 14-2 on clay with the Swiss star’s last win on the surface against the Spaniard coming back in 2009.
“Next year, just like with any other tournament, we’ll see what happens,” said Federer, who returned to Roland Garros this year for the first time since 2015.
“But I definitely enjoyed the clay court season and the French Open, so that would help the chances, I guess, to return. “It’s not like it’s been a shocker. So from that standpoint, it’s okay.”
In damp, swirling conditions on Court Philippe Chatrier, Nadal made only 19 unforced errors, crushing 33 winners as Federer struck 25. Nadal will be appearing in a 12th French Open final and chasing a 12th title for an 18th major which would put him just two behind Federer in the all-time list.
On Friday, 33-year-old Nadal also mastered the wind which battered Paris with gusts of up to 37 kph blowing the clay off the court and into the eyes of the players and spectators. It all played into Nadal’s hands as he took his record in the tournament to 92 wins against just two losses.
“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.
“I was thinking that during the match. It’s just amazing how he plays from deep and then is able to bounce back and forth from the baseline.” Should Federer return in 2020, he will at least have the comfort of knowing that Chatrier will have a retractable roof.
That may negate some of the Nadal power and poise on a clay court — or maybe not. “You get to a point where you’re just happy to make shots and not look ridiculous,” said Federer. “It’s that bad. There is also no way to practice in these conditions. It’s all a mindset. It’s footwork.”