Federer, Rafa face off

RI­VALS: THE SWISS ACE HAD NO DOUBTS WHO HE WANTED TO PLAY IN SA

The Citizen (KZN) - - Front Page -

Roger Federer says Rafael Nadal is the per­fect fit for an op­po­nent in tonight’s Match in Africa con­test at Cape Town Sta­dium. The two tennis legends will square off in the ex­hi­bi­tion match for Federer’s foun­da­tion, with the main aim to raise money in sup­port of ed­u­ca­tional and ath­let­ics pro­grammes for chil­dren in Africa.

Federer ar­rived in the Mother City this week where he ad­dressed re­porters at Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

The Swiss ace said he never had any doubts about who he wanted to face in South Africa, his mother’s coun­try of birth.

“For me, it was only Rafa who could make this event truly spe­cial for the peo­ple here, be­cause I have the con­nec­tion to Rafa. I thought if maybe some­body could bring him down to South Africa then it’s me.

“I asked him and he said yes right away. We’ve been fight­ing over a date for the last two years. I fi­nally got one out of him. I couldn’t be more ex­cited to see Rafa ar­riv­ing to­mor­row (yes­ter­day) morn­ing,” Federer said on Wed­nes­day.

The two tennis gi­ants have a sto­ried ri­valry which dates back to the Miami Open in 2004.

Nadal holds a 24-16 head-to­head ad­van­tage, but Federer has won six of the past seven en­coun­ters.

“It’s nice to call one of your big­gest ri­vals one of your friends. He’s not my clos­est friend, I’m not his clos­est friend as well,” Federer quipped, be­fore adding: “On the road I think we un­der­stand each other re­ally, re­ally well. We like see­ing each other, also chat­ting to­gether and mak­ing sure that tennis moves for­ward the right way.”

Federer added that his re­la­tion­ship with Nadal had grown stronger over the years.

“I re­mem­ber Rafa when he was younger, he was so shy – he was look­ing up to me – and he said what­ever Roger wants I’m happy with that. Then he grew into a much stronger char­ac­ter. And then ob­vi­ously the ri­valry grew as we were No 1 and No 2 the whole time. And then to­day with all the time that has passed we’re on the fi­nal stretch in some ways. We see life very dif­fer­ently but we have ul­ti­mate re­spect for one an­other.

“We’ve done so many pro­mo­tions to­gether. We’ve done char­i­ta­ble things like the bush­fire relief just now also in Aus­tralia, I’ve played him in Mal­lorca on the half clay, half grass court, I’ve played him in Madrid for his foun­da­tion, he came to Zurich to play in my match for Africa as well.”

Federer is the cur­rent Grand Slam leader with 20 ti­tles, with Nadal on 19.

The Swiss boasts 103 ATP ti­tles, with Nadal not too far be­hind on 84.

“Re­gard­less of all the records that he’s about to break of mine, or vice versa, I think we’re happy for one an­other. “

Pic­ture: Gallo Im­ages

CHAR­ITY. Roger Federer ar­rived in Cape Town this week where he takes on Rafael Nadal in the Match in Africa to­day at Cape Town Sta­dium.

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