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- Rafael Nadal believes Roger Federer is scared of competing against him on a clay court.
- Roger Federer said last month that he will skip the clay season but will return to tennis in time for the 2018 Wimbledon Championships.
- Nadal says it is “controversial” – but the stats show the Swiss is right to do so.
Roger Federer is avoiding Rafa Nadal.
That’s the suggestion of Nadal himself, who has questioned whether Federer’s decision to skip the clay court season means he is scared to face the Spaniard on the surface Nadal has historically performed best on.
Federer announced his decision to rest during the clay season shortly after his shock second-round loss to Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Miami Open in March.
He could return to competitive tennis at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle in June, three weeks before the 2018 Wimbledon Championships. This means he will miss the French Open in late May – a major clay tournament that Nadal has won more than any other man in history.
Nadal, currently ranked number one in the world, was recently asked about Federer’s decision.
According to The Telegraph, he said: “He says he will love to play against me again in best-of-five sets on clay. He said that a couple of days ago – and I thought he would play Roland Garros. Then a few days later he says he will not play in one event, so there’s a little bit of controversy with that.”
Is Federer scared to play Nadal on clay?
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The Federer/Nadal rivalry has at times been one of the best in sport. Federer has been in charge of late, winning each of their last five matches, all of which have been on a hard surface.
Despite Federer’s late surge, Nadal still has the edge. He has beaten Federer 23 times in 38 matches on all surfaces, according to the ATP. And if the pair squared off on clay, Nadal would surely be favourite to return to winning ways.
On a clay court, Federer and Nadal have played each other 15 times and, in every match but two, it has been Nadal who has triumphed. That’s an impressive 13-2 win-loss record. In total, Nadal and Federer have contested 57 sets on clay – and Nadal has won 72.5% of them, which is a landslide.
On hard or grass courts, Federer has a far greater success rate, winning 13 games against just 10 losses.
When you look at those statistics, it is easy to see why Federer may want to avoid clay competition against Nadal. Because, on grass, he has a much better chance of defeating him.