Madrid: Spain's world number one Rafael Nadal says he prefers to play against his main rival Roger Federer of Switzerland, who he defeated during the final of the French Open earlier this month.
"It is clear that the matches against Federer are always of great intensity. When I have a final against him, I feel something special and I imagine people feel the same," he said in an interview published on Sunday in Spanish daily ABC.
"I have always liked Federer. I think the good thing about both of us is that we have always known how to lose as well as win. He is a gentleman."
Either Nadal, 25, or Federer, 29, has held the world’s number one ranking since February 2, 2004, the longest two-man stranglehold since the rankings began in 1973.
The prospect of a fourth Wimbledon final between Nadal and Federer moved a step closer on Saturday as the two rivals cruised into the last 16.
The left-handed Spaniard won a record-equalling sixth French Open title with a dramatic 7-5, 7-6 (7/3), 5-7, 6-1 win over Federer on June 5 on the red clay in Paris.
The win tied Nadal with Sweden's Bjorn Borg and allowed him to retain his world number one ranking, fending off Serbian second-seed Novak Djokovic.
It also extended Nadal’s head-to-head record against the right-handed Federer to 17-8.
"I am conscious of having won something that days earlier did not seem possible. I am satisfied at having been able to overcome the initial disaster," said Nadal.
Asked if he would rather face Federer or Djokovic in a final, Nadal said: "You can't fool yourself, I would prefer to face Federer."
"My results against him this year are three wins and one defeat and against Djokovic it is four defeats. That is the way it is.
"I imagine I will not lose against Djokovic every time I play against him from now until the end of my career and I am not going to always win against Federer. It depends on the shape that they and I are in."
Federer last beat Nadal in a Grand Slam final at Wimbledon in 2007.