NEW YORK (AFP) - Roger Federer has played Rafael Nadal at every Grand Slam event except the US Open and both tennis legends predicted a great night should they meet in this year's semi-finals.
Swiss star Federer, a 19-time Grand Slam champion, and world number one Nadal, a 15-time Grand Slam winner, said on Saturday (Aug 26) they would enjoy adding a showdown on the New York hardcourts to their historic rivalry, which the Spaniard leads 23-14.
"I'd be happy to play him here," Federer said Saturday.
"We never played in New York so I think that would be fun for everybody involved.
"There are 60-plus players in between us that don't agree in our section that we should make it to the semis. We have our work cut out there. But I'd love to play Rafa here in New York. Hopefully that would be a great atmosphere and one again where we play great like at the Australian Open.
"I don't think we're both thinking that far ahead. I'm sure it will be a nice prospect."
Federer, 36, defeated Nadal, 31, in this year's Australian Open final, improving to 3-7 against the Spaniard in Slam finals.
Nadal, for his part, says he would much rather not face Federer in the semis.
"If I am in semifinals, I prefer to play against another one. Is obvious. Sounds very good, but the real thing, I prefer to play against another player, an easier one if it's possible," Nadal said with a smile.
"Of course I understand that's going to be great for our history. Is true that we played in all Grand Slam finals. We never played here... meeting here in semifinals with Roger, if that happens, that will be something great and amazing."
Federer says he has recovered from the back injury that kept him out of Cincinnati two weeks ago, saying, "I've been on the practice courts since last week. I've been playing sets the last few days and I'm really happy how I'm feeling."
Federer missed the US Open last year for the first time since 1999, part of an extended break that helped prepare him for an impressive run to this year's Wimbledon and Australian Open crowns. But he wants to see the new roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"Excited to play on centre court for the first time with the proper structure and roof now," Federer said.
"I missed it last year. I'm very excited playing here again."
'ALL A BIT SURPRISED'
Federer, who will open against US teen Frances Tiafoe, never saw it coming that he and Nadal, who won his 10th French Open title, would enjoy success so long after 30.
"You could foresee that maybe Rafa and me would be back in some stage in some shape or form but maybe not quite like this, so I think we're all a bit surprised," Federer said.
"Rafa's year has been exceptional, winning the 10th French Open. I mean, even people didn't think he was going to win the French Open again.
"For me, only once he retires I believe he won't win anymore. He's that good a player. I'm not too surprised he's back to this magnitude and being back at world number one after all these years is really exceptional, really nice for him."
Federer could take the world number one spot from Nadal but it might take beating him in the semi-finals to do it.
And even evergreen Federer admits he is having to make some allowances to playing with pain and Father Time.
"Some things just hurt and some things just don't, but some things you maybe are carrying, like a wrist problem or Achilles thing sometimes just lingers for three to six months. It's easily acceptable, but you're feeling it, especially the first few steps when you get out of bed."