Federer's friendly rivalry with Rafa

Federer's friendly rivalry with Rafa
Melbourne: Roger Federer says his respectful and friendly rivalry with Rafael Nadal has had a beneficial effect on the cut-throat world of men's tennis.

In a world sport peculiarity, Federer and Nadal get on surprisingly well with each other at the top of men's tennis, in contrast with other great rivalries.

Federer, who moved into an eighth straight Australian Open semi-final on Tuesday, is edging towards what many expect will be a showdown with world number one Nadal in Sunday's final.

"I think he's always been quite respectful," the 16-time major winner said of his Spanish rival. "Obviously, he's younger than me, maybe he looked up to me at the very beginning.

"So I think he was always very respectful. I've always been the same to any opponent really.

"From the start he didn't speak much at the very beginning, he was shy, but as time went by, we had to spend more time together, and we played more against each other.

"I don't want to say that we hang out more together, but we saw each other more and started to speak more together.

"It was always friendly and it was always very nice. So from this standpoint, we never really had any issues together."

Federer said it was their convivial relationship that helped make for more friendliness between other players on the men's tour.

"I always thought it was actually good to be nice to younger generations coming in instead of making them feel like this is going to be hell for you," he said.

"I just think it's nice to respect each other and be friendly to each other. I'm sure it rubbed off on Rafa (Nadal).

"I think when they see the two of us being the biggest rivals in the sport actually to speak to each other and be somewhat friendly, I think that rubs off on the other players as well.

"Tennis is a fierce, tough sport, but at the end of the day it's only a sport. There's so much more to life. I think maybe that's a little bit what I've been able to show many other athletes."