Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal - Laver Cup 2023

Roger Federer claims Rafael Nadal missing Roland Garros ‘will be brutal’

Roger Federer has commented on the potential of Rafael Nadal missing Roland Garros this year, with the 14-time champion on the injury sidelines since January.

Federer, who retired at the Laver Cup last year, was speaking at the Formula One Miami Grand Prix and was asked about Nadal’s absence from the sport, “It will be brutal yes. It’ll be tough for tennis if Rafa is not going to be there.”

Nadal has been out of action since the Australian Open, when he picked up a grade two tear to his iliopsoas muscle and has not returned to the ATP tour since.

The Spaniard had planned to return for the start of the clay court season, but his original recovery of six to eight weeks has not gone as planned with Nadal withdrawing from favoured clay events including Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome.

This means that if Nadal is to play at Roland Garros this year there is a strong chance that he will not have played a professional match for over four months and will be going in cold.

However, his great rival, Federer, is still hopeful that both him and Novak Djokovic will be fit and ready for the second major of the year.

“I still hope so [that he makes it], I saw he pulled out of Rome so I wish him the best. Also, Novak hasn’t played that much, so I hope he’s going to be strong as well.”

The Swiss added, “There are obviously all the young guys coming through as well. I’ll be watching.”

Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros

Federer and Nadal have played 40 times in their historic rivalry, and despite it often being a very back and forth the Spaniard was always dominant at Roland Garros.

In-fact Nadal prevented Federer from winning his maiden clay court Grand Slam title on three occasions, before he eventually broke through in 2009 when the Spaniard fell to a shock defeat to Robin Soderling.

Here is their head-to-head history:

Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal overall head-to-head: 16-24

Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal head-to-head at Roland Garros: 0-6

  1. Nadal beat Federer, 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-3 (2005 Semi-final)
  2. Nadal beat Federer, 1-6 6-1 6-4 7-6(4) (2006 Final)
  3. Nadal beat Federer, 6-3 4-6 6-3 6-4 (2007 Final)
  4. Nadal beat Federer, 6-1 6-3 6-0 (2008 Final)
  5. Nadal beat Federer, 7-5 7-6(3) 5-7 6-1 (2011 Final)
  6. Nadal beat Federer, 6-3 6-4 6-2 (2019 Semi-final)

Nadal has just under three weeks if he wants to bid for a record 15th Roland Garros title, with the tournament beginning on the 28th May.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.