Roger and Rafa on collision course ahead of becoming Euro teammates

China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-04 07:44

NEW YORK - Roger Federer is as curious as tennis fans around the world to see if he will finally face Rafael Nadal at the US Open for the first time in their long careers.

But even if that doesn't happen, the two career leaders in men's Grand Slam titles will have the chance to bond as teammates and possibly even doubles partners later this month in a new Europe versus The World team event.

"Good for a change, yes, after all these years," Federer said. "If I can help him, great. If he can help me, even better."

Federer rolled into the fourth round of the US Open on Saturday, extending his bid for a 20th career Grand Slam title by downing Spanish 31st seed Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-3, 7-5.

Roger and Rafa on collision course ahead of becoming Euro teammates

The 36-year-old Swiss, seeded third, is seeking a record sixth title on the New York hardcourts. He could meet world No 1 Nadal in a Friday semi-final at Arthur Ashe Stadium in the one Slam where they have never squared off.

"For many years Rafa and me, we've tried to play against each other here, and it just didn't work out," Federer said. "Now this week, I don't feel necessarily the pressure is there.

"I'm happy I'm still around, and Rafa has fought well here, too. I'm happy for him. We'll see if it gets done or not. I'm curious to see myself."

Federer is having a banner season, taking the Wimbledon and Australian Open crowns after some observers suspected he might never lift another Grand Slam trophy,

Nadal has done the same at age 31, winning his 15th Slam title by capturing his record 10th French Open crown.

But the long-time rivals will team up on Sept 22-24 for the Laver Cup in Prague, a new three-day team event pitting Bjorn Borg's European squad against a World lineup guided by John McEnroe.

Federer and Nadal will work alongside Austria's Dominic Thiem, Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, Germany's Alexander Zverev and Croatia's Marin Cilic.

"Rafa, he has been such a wonderful champion and a good friend of mine on the tour, one of my big rivals for life. It's just so nice to be able to spend some time with him and support him," Federer said.

Federer, who would be the oldest US Open champion in the Open Era (since 1967), was also excited about the chance to spend time with 61-year-old Swedish legend Borg, an 11-time Grand Slam champion.

"For me to spend time with Bjorn, it's quite rare," Federer said.

"He doesn't spend so much time on the tour. When he shows up, it's short. I feel every minute you get with him is a privilege.

"Here we are, he's going to be stuck with us. I think it's going to be very special for all of us, particularly me. I mean, I have incredible respect for him."

Federer said if he could turn back the clock and face one alltime icon from another era, it would be Borg in his prime, when he won six French Opens and five Wimbledon crowns from 1974-81.

"If I could ever go back and play one player, I feel like it would be Bjorn," Federer said. "I feel he's that incredibly good, for what he did for the game. When I look how he played, what he brought, it's crazy."

Agence France-Presse

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