-- NEW YORK -- Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have never met at the US Open in their storied rivalry, and Nadal would like to keep it that way.
The top-seeded Nadal admits he'd rather not face the third-seeded Federer in what would be a potential dream semifinal at the US Open. Federer has taken the past four meetings against Nadal, including an epic five-set Australian Open final earlier this year.
"If I am in semifinals, not, I prefer to play against another one," Nadal said when asked if he wanted to face Federer in the semifinals. "Is obvious, no? I am not that way [to want the matchup]. Sounds very good, but the real thing, I prefer to play against another player, an easier one if it's possible."
The honest Nadal cracked a smile.
"I know you want to hear the other way, that I would love to play with him," Nadal said. "No, of course I understand that [it's] gonna be great for our history. Is true that we played in all [the other] Grand Slam finals. We never played here and for sure this year we are not going to play in finals. Finals are more special than semifinals, in that case."
The two have faced each other 37 times but never in Flushing. While Nadal says a first-ever US Open duel with Federer would be something "amazing," the Spaniard would like to avoid what could be a mentally and physically taxing meeting against Federer for the right to play in the final.
Federer, though, would love to face his rival for the first time in New York. The two have played each other multiple times at the other three slams.
"I mean, I'd be happy to play him here," said Federer, who is pursuing his 20th Grand Slam title. "We never played here in New York, so I think that would be fun for everybody involved. I mean, there is, like, I don't know, 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, you know, I'd love to play Rafa here in New York," Federer continued. "Hopefully it will be a night session. Hopefully that would be a great atmosphere and one again where we play great like at the Australian Open."
After missing last year's US Open due to injury, Federer enters this year's Open hoping to stay healthy. Federer "tweaked" his back at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, where he lost in the final to Alexander Zverev. He pulled out of the Western & Southern Open due to the back injury.
Federer, who won the Australian and Wimbledon titles and is 35-3 this year, says his back is feeling good after the rest and getting in some practice sets the past few days. On Saturday morning, Federer moved well although he didn't have to overexert himself much during the practice session.
"Look, two weeks after the [Montreal] finals is a long time, so because you've got two weeks you can take your time, you know," said Federer, who has five US Open titles but has not won here since 2008. "So the first week was really just, you know, trying to feel better, get better, get back on the court at some stage. I have been on the practice courts since last week.
"I have been playing sets the last few days, and I'm really happy how I'm feeling, you know, few days out of the first round here now."
Nadal will be seeking his third Open title. While he is 23-14 all time against Federer, he'd like to avoid what the fans want to happen.
"Anyway, meeting him here in semifinals with Roger, if that happens that will be something great and amazing," Nadal said. "But as I say before, we made a lot [before]."