Tennis: Federer still relishes Nadal rivalry after drubbing

Roger Federer says he still believes he can beat Rafael Nadal again and relishes their clashes despite the increasingly lopsided record in the Spaniard's favour. Photo / Getty Images.
Roger Federer says he still believes he can beat Rafael Nadal again and relishes their clashes despite the increasingly lopsided record in the Spaniard's favour. Photo / Getty Images.

Roger Federer says he still believes he can beat Rafael Nadal again and relishes their clashes despite the increasingly lopsided record in the Spaniard's favour.

The world No.1 stretched his head-to-head record against Federer to 23-10, including the past five in succession, with Friday night's 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 6-3 Australian Open semi-final victory.

It's been almost seven years since the Swiss has downed Nadal in a grand slam match.

But 32-year-old Federer said he hadn't lost faith he could find a way to win against Nadal and the hype around their rivalry still motivated him.

"I enjoy playing against him because it's always going to be on centre court, it's always going to be a big story, you know, going into the match,'' Federer said.

"That's kind of what you train hard for, that's where you want to be.

"It's not where I don't want to be, so I'm always happy when I come out against him because the atmosphere is different and I enjoy the matches normally.

"I mean, it's not as cool when you lose in straight sets.

"Nevertheless, there's good moments out there as well.''

Federer entered Friday night's clash boosted by impressive wins over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Murray but said facing Nadal was something else entirely.

"It's totally different playing Rafa over anybody else. Playing Murray or Rafa is day and night,'' he said.

"It's not because of the level necessarily, but it's just every point is played in a completely different fashion and I have to totally change my game.

"No excuse. It's just a fact.''

But Federer said he would still leave Australia reassured his game is back on an upward curve after making the Brisbane International final then the Australian Open semis.

"I still feel my best tennis is only ahead of me right now,'' the 17-time grand slam champion said.

"So I'm looking forward to the next couple of months.''

-AAP

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