National

Nadal a step closer to dream Federer final

By AAP Newswire

On the 10th anniversary of the 2008 Wimbledon men's final that is widely considered the greatest tennis match it seems like the stars may be aligning for Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to meet in another decider.

They are again the two best players in the world and have split the past six Grand Slam titles between them - taking their combined haul to an incredible 37 majors.

Most importantly they are fit and healthy at the same time and showing signs that a blockbuster might be on the cards come July 15 as they both reached the last 16 at the grasscourt championships without dropping a set.

While tennis fans around the world start dreaming, hoping and longing that Federer and Nadal will renew their rivalry on the sport's greatest stage, there is one person who is definitely not keen on the idea.

"If I am in the final, I prefer to face an easier opponent. I am not stupid," world No.1 Nadal said on Saturday to hoots of laughter from reporters.

Since reaching his fifth final at the All England Club seven years ago, it has not been a happy hunting ground for the 2008 and 2010 champion as he has failed to get past the fourth round.

Whereas once he could hypnotise Federer into defeat - holding a 23-11 win-loss record including 8-2 in Grand Slam meetings contested up to 2016 - the Spaniard has lost four successive matches to his great rival over the past 18 months.

That run, which kicked off with Federer, who is now 36, winning a pulsating five-setter at last year's Australian Open final, has allowed the eight-times Wimbledon champion to narrow Nadal's head-to-head lead to 23-15.

But after hoisting the French Open trophy for a record 11th time less than a month ago, Nadal seems energised at the prospect of completing the Roland Garros-Wimbledon double for the third time in his career.

"For me it's great to have all this great experience again, playing so well later in my career, having a great year last year, having a good year this year," said the 32-year-old, who has been plagued by a series of knee, wrist and hip injuries.

"All these problems that I am going through during my career... makes me enjoy more the good moments."

Nadal eased past Australian teenager Alex De Minaur 6-1 6-2 6-4 on Saturday to set up a fourth-round meeting with unseeded Czech Jiri Vesely.

"I am playing well. I'm looking forward to keep playing well," Nadal said.

"If I am in the final, it will be great news," he added with a grin.

He would just rather not see his familiar Swiss foe, who next plays Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, across the net.