Roger Federer looks to defy daunting odds against old rival Rafael Nadal

The Spaniard still looks unbeatable on the red clay of Paris but the 38-year-old Swiss believes he can end his run

Nobody in the history of athletic endeavour has dominated a single geographical space the way Rafael Nadal has ruled the 2,106 sq ft of clay marking the boundaries of his work on Court Philippe Chatrier since 2005. His reign, surely, cannot last much longer but on Friday he resumes his duel with Roger Federer in a semi-final that is as significant as their first 14 years ago.

The Spaniard, sleeveless and teenaged, beat Federer in the semi-finals that 2005 summer, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, and went on to win the first of his 11 French Opens. The Swiss could not get the better of him in three subsequent efforts, taking a set off him in the final the following year and another in the 2007 final. He then endured the most embarrassing of his 23 defeats in their 38 encounters when a rampant Nadal dispatched him for the loss of only four games in an hour and 48 minutes in 2008.

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