Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are set for yet another epic battle after both men reached the last four of the Sony Ericsson Open.
Federer had an easy passage as Gilles Simon withdrew from their quarter-final in Miami with a stiff neck after just three games. Nadal beat Tomas Berdych 6-2 3-6 6-3, despite requiring some treatment for a shoulder injury.
Simon’s retirement after just 10 minutes against Federer saw uproar amongst the Miami crowd, but the Swiss had sympathy for his opponent:
“He told me he woke up this morning with a stiff neck and couldn’t move. It’s obviously disappointing when it happens in front of an audience. You get booed off the court – that’s rough. It’s not the way you want to move on, but look, I’ll take those because they happen quite rarely.”
Federer insisted that Nadal was still his toughest rival and is expecting another difficult afternoon in their semi final clash:
“My number one rival to me it seems is Rafa. It doesn’t matter how many more times I’m going to be playing all the other guys. At the moment, we have that history and nobody can take it away from us. That’s why the only thing really missing from us is a US Open match, I guess, and maybe a few other tournaments.”
Federer and Nadal have now met 22 times in competitive action. The Spaniard has the upper hand in recent seasons and has now won 14 of those matches.
“For me, it’s like a really special thing when we play each other, because we play always really important matches,” said Nadal.
“Tomorrow is a semi-final. Very few times we played in semi-finals of one tournament. The rest of the matches are finals and important for big titles. That makes the rivalry very, very special.”