Federer eager to play Nadal

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/R/Rogerfederer.jpg' class='caption'> Roger Federer is eager for a rematch with French Open champion Rafael Nadal.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:51 IST
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Roger Federer is eager for a rematch with French Open champion Rafael Nadal. They could meet Saturday in the semifinals of the Gerry Weber Open, a key tuneup for Wimbledon. That means they will play on grass, not clay, where Federer was beaten by the athletic crowd-pleasing Spaniard. Keen contest The top-ranked Federer, who claimed two Wimbledons in winning 24 straight matches on grass, isn't dismissing Nadal's chances – although the Spaniard's serve isn't considered big enough to excel on the surface. "It will be interesting to play him here in Halle and in Wimbledon the next few years," Federer said. "I fancy my chances against him here on grass, but I see him being a good player on all surfaces." Federer will find it tougher this time at Halle - where he has won the past two years en route to winning Wimbledon and rising to No. 1. Previously, he only had to beat Nicolas Kiefer and Mardy Fish in the past two finals. This time he could run into two of the three men who have beaten him in 2005 – in which he has a 47-3 record. Nadal knocked him out of the French Open semifinals, repeating second-seeded Marat Safin's feat at the Australian. Banking on grass Federer, who came to Halle early the past two years to adjust to grass, didn't arrive until Sunday night. His first match is Tuesday against Robin Soderling. "I love grass and haven't lost in two years," the Swiss star said. "But it is the first time I have had very little preparation for the grass-court season, so it's an interesting challenge." Two years ago, Federer's reputation as possessing a beautiful game but unable to perform at the big events was shattered when his success at Halle led him to his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. He has now won 18 straight finals, dating back to Gstaad in 2003. Threat from Nadal Federer has beaten off challenges from Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt, but Nadal could be the biggest threat yet to his top ranking. "A young guy like that plays with a lot of passion, really forces it," Federer said. "There is always a lot of pressure on me, but it is good for tennis." (AP)

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