PARIS – Rafael Nadal defeated fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 on Friday to reach the French Open final where he will bid to become the first man to win seven titles at Roland Garros.
His opponent in Sunday’s championship match will be either top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia or third seed Roger Federer of Switzerland, who were playing their semi-final immediately afterwards. Seeded second, despite winning six titles here in the last seven years, Nadal once again proved to have too much power and drive for his close friend, who was bidding to reach a Grand Slam final for the first time in what was his 37th campaign.
“I probably played my best match here at Roland Garros this year,” said Nadal. “I am sorry for David to lose like this. He is one of my best friends on the tour and one of the best claycourters.
“It was a fantastic match for me and I am so happy to be in another final at Roland Garros.” Nadal’s straight sets victory over another Spaniard, Nicolas Almagro, in the quarter-finals brought up his 50th win at Roland Garros against just the one defeat – to Swede Robin Soderling in the 2009 fourth round. The 26-year-old Spaniard had the added motivation this year of a seventh title win at Roland Garros, which would snap a tie with Swedish legend Bjorn Borg. It would also be his 11th Grand Slam title, putting him level with Borg and Rod Laver. Ferrer carried into the match a 4-15 head-to-head record against Nadal, but he had defeated him twice in Grand Slams – at the 2007 US Open last 16 and at the 2011 Australian Open quarter-finals.
His only win over him on clay, however, dated back to their first encounter eight years ago when Nadal was just 17. Ferrer opened well with a love service game and he more than held his own in the early exchanges. The sixth seed set up the first two break points of the match in the fourth game, but the steely resolve of Nadal denied him a 3-1 lead. The man they know as “The Bulldozer” immediately paid the price as the defending champion broke him to love. Two games later Nadal produced another love break to take a 5-2 lead and already an all too familiar pattern had once again been set. Nadal tucked away the set 6-2, prompting a change of shirt for Ferrer from white to pink. But the result in the second set was much the same with Nadal at one point winning a marathon rally during which he hit one shot sitting on the court after losing his footing. Nadal secured a third break of serve to lead 4-1 after which the heavens opened to give Ferrer some respite from the Nadal assault. -Pakistantoday