Highlights from Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer prove Spaniard is King of Clay

2019 French Open - Day Thirteen

It was deja vu for Roger Federer as his return to Roland Garros ended in another clay-court defeat to Rafael Nadal.

The 39th meeting between the two men was played in exceptionally windy conditions, with Nadal handling them better to claim a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory and reach a 12th final.

It was the first time the pair had met at the French Open since 2011, but this match went the same way as their other previous five.

Federer insisted he was looking forward to the challenge after deciding earlier this year to return to a tournament he had not played since 2015.

The 37-year-old had turned the momentum of their rivalry around with five straight wins, all on hard courts, and had been in fine form this tournament, but this would quickly have felt familiar.

Not that any of their previous encounters were in conditions quite like this, because, while the threatened rain held off, the wind sent the ball swirling off course off both men’s rackets and whipped the clay into their eyes.

“You get to a point where you’re just happy to make shots and not look ridiculous,” said Federer. “It’s that bad.

“But it was windy for both. He was better, no doubt about it. I had maybe minichances today but they were not big enough to win.”

The second set was central to Federer’s hopes. His tactic of drop-shotting into the wind was an effective one, and he broke serve to lead 2-0 only for Nadal to immediately break back.

2019 French Open - Day Thirteen

Nadal then broke his opponent again from 40-0 in the ninth game before serving out for a two-sets-to-love lead.

Federer received a warning for ball abuse when he angrily smashed one into the crowd after being broken again in the third game of the third set, and from there the end was swift.

Unsurprisingly, Nadal himself put on an absolute clinic on the surface he's the king of, and the below video package shows just how many class winners he hit during the three-set victory.

From looking down and out in a rally, to unbelievable passing shots, Nadal looked on fine form throughout, and it's to no surprise that he made Federer look distinctly average, when we all know he really isn't. 

Surely a 12th French Open title is heading back to Spain this weekend?

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