For all of his clay titles and his 20-10 record over Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal admits that in the grand scheme of tennis, he has not yet caught up with the Swiss.
Nadal, tipped again as favourite at the French Open as he bids for an eighth title from nine editions, bases his analysis on simple numbers. And on the face of things, Federer still sets the overall pace.
"I think the head to head are important (regarding) important matches," said the third-seeded Spaniard. "But, for instance, Chelsea beat Manchester United in both matches during the season, but Manchester United won the Premier League, the better team is Manchester United. That's an example."
For Nadal, there is no getting around Federer's record-setting 17 Grand Slam titles compared to his own 11.
"Roger has 17 Grand Slams and a lot of records on his shoulders. It would be very arrogant and very stupid for me say that today I have a comparison with him just because he has a negative head to head against me.
"I'm happy about what I achieved, I'm happy about what I'm winning. But Roger has better numbers than me, and that's the real thing. Nobody has more Grand Slams than him. He's the guy with more weeks in the history in the No. 1, I think. So these kind of record says that he's the best of the history. Numbers are for that."
The Spaniard has won four of his last five matches against the Swiss, most recently the Rome final in May.
NOTEBOOK: Federer's crowd support dips in Paris against the French
Paris (dpa) - With fervent fans all over the tennis world, it's nearly always a "home" match for Roger Federer - even when the Swiss is playing a local as he did in his quarter-final loss at the French Open.
But after going down in quick straight sets to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on what was clearly an off day for the world number two, Federer can appreciate the support he got in the heated atmosphere of the Chatrier stadium at Roland Garros.
" I thought the crowd was more even today than it was against (Frenchman Gilles) Simon, for some reason, which I was happy to have a lot of fans on my side today," said the French-speaking Swiss.
"I've always had some amazing crowd support here in France and throughout the world. I have been very fortunate because I don't have a home Slam or anything like that."
Against most any other (non-French) opponent Federer would have surely had the majority of the crowd of 16,000 on his side, as is often the case when the 2009 champion takes to the clay in Paris.
"I've played so many French guys along the way with (Gael) Monfils and Jo Willy, of course in Bercy (Julien) Benneteau and Simon and all these guys. We know each other and I think the crowd knows me by now.
I know them.
"I always try to play tough but very fair. They seem to enjoy it, and they have helped me in a huge way to win in 2009. I thought they would have been very happy again if I did that again this year. Unfortunately I couldn't get it done. For them, I hope that Jo Willy can do it, clearly."
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OCTOBER 30, 2014
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