Rafael Nadal (again) and the wind confuse Roger Federer at the French Open

Rafael Nadal (again) and the wind confuse Roger Federer at the French Open
PARIS - Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have covered a lot of ground together in 15 years and 39 games, from playing to stay at the light in Wimbledon to trying to get to a promotional video without falling off their laughter.

But on Friday, in their long-awaited semifinal of the French Open, this friendly nemesis, whose rivalry has been so good, had the opportunity to experience something new, even if the final result, a decisive victory by Nadal at Roland Garros, was not anything new.

On Friday, they had to deal only with the forehand and the inner strength, but also with the wind. Not a bit of Zephyr in the spring of Paris, but something more suited to the winter and coast of Brittany.

Burst after burst sent to Panama hats, napkins and, above all, red clouds of Terre battue flying towards the fields of vision of the players and their psyches.

"You get to a point where you're happy to make shots and you do not look ridiculous," Federer said after Nadal's victory 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

For the credit of both champions, they still produce some sublime tennis, even if only in patches. There were drop-shot winners who hit the clay and turned back like wedge shots in the golf; Accurate precision steps under duress; and, in the case of Nadal, he assured two hands crossed hands that Federer, 37, could only look with nostalgia from afar as they bounced out of reach.

But for a change, there were many errors that once a month hackers could relate to the performances, the shots of the frames and the contortionist postures that made even the Federer ballistics look like he was learning to dance.

It was not alone Novak Djokovic, who faced Dominic Thiem in the second even more violent semifinal on Friday, is used to writing in all kinds of extreme positions while covering the court like a tarp.

But when Thiem's ​​shots were submerged, swallowed and died without warning, Djokovic's frustration became evident. I called referee Andreas Egli on the court to press for a stop due to the wind. Egli rejected it and explained that it could only be stopped if the conditions represented a danger for the spectators or players.

In this case, they were a danger only for the tranquility and quality of the game. Thiem could have been fighting Djokovic. But Djokovic was fighting against Thiem, the weather and himself.

That semifinal did not reach a conclusion. It was canceled shortly before 6:30 pm, local time, after a second rain delay, with Thiem leading, 6-2, 3-6, 3-1, and with more rain and gusts of up to 90 kilometers per hour, approximately 56 miles per hour, in the immediate forecast.

"The guy from our weather station said we could have two more showers in the next hour and a half, so the games would stop again," said Guy Forget, the tournament director. "So the referee decided it did not make sense to shower, get dressed, warm up and go play four games and then put back the blankets and maybe do it again when we can easily finish the game on Saturday."

Djokovic was seen on television leaving the field before the postponement was announced but Forget said the tournament referee, Remy Azemar, had already informed both players of the decision. "People thought Novak was gone and that's why we canceled matches, which does not make sense," said Forget.

The planned rain did not materialize immediately, but Djokovic got a pardon.

His match with Thiem was scheduled to resume at noon on Saturday in Paris (6 a.m. Eastern Time), which means that the winner will not have a day off before trying to prevent Nadal from winning the 12th French Open title.

Nadal described the conditions as "so difficult to manage". He said it was a day to "accept all adversities and focus on the positive all the time."

Frankly, no one in the history of modern tennis has completed that list of pending tasks as diligently as Nadal.

To beat it in any place represents a raise, but to defeat it in Roland Garros is still K2 and to overcome it with the wind only increases the altitude. Nadal can certainly attack and shorten exchanges, which have become points of emphasis in trying to preserve his body at 33 years. But with his focus on the backcourt and his positions on the deep court, he has more margin for error incorporated into his game than someone like Federer.

Only two men have defeated Nadal at the French Open, and Federer is not yet one of them, far from it. He's 0-6 against Nadal in Paris and has yet to push him into a fifth set.