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Federer, Nadal keep date with destiny
June 08, 2007 20:05 IST
Last Updated: June 08, 2007 23:03 IST
Rafael Nadal [Images] moved closer to a rare French Open hat-trick by overpowering Serbia's Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 on Friday to set up a much-anticipated final against arch-rival Roger Federer [Images].
Federer reached a record eighth consecutive Grand Slam final by overcoming Russia's [Images] Nikolay Davydenko 7-5, 7-6, 7-6 in a thrilling French Open semi-final on Friday.
World number two Nadal, trying to become the first man with three successive Roland Garros titles since Bjorn Borg in 1980, wore down sixth seed Djokovic with relentless groundstrokes to extend his 100 percent record on the Paris clay.
The 20-year-old Djokovic tried his best but was not tough enough and failed to emulate compatriot Ana Ivanovic, who will face Justine Henin [Images] in the women's final here on Saturday.
In Sunday's men's title match, the 21-year-old Spaniard with the bulging biceps will take on world number one Federer, who lost to Nadal in last year's final.
World number one Federer bettered the record of seven successive final appearances set by Australian Jack Crawford in the 1930s but was made to work for it.
The elegant 25-year-old Swiss, chasing the only Grand Slam title to elude him, showed more composure when it mattered to set up a final against either defending champion Rafael Nadal of Spain or Serbian newcomer Novak Djokovic.
"Anything could have happened in this match," Federer said with a sigh of relief after snatching victory.
"It was tight until the end. I could have lost in three sets but I won. He's an excellent player and that was a good test for me before the final."
Fourth seed Davydenko, who failed to advance to his first final of a major event, gave his all but it was not enough.
The 26-year-old bowed out by sending a backhand wide on the second match point after just over three hours of high quality tennis.
Davydenko, who led in all three sets, broke Federer straight away and earned many break points on the top seed's next service games.
Federer, who looked sluggish at first, underlined his determination to fight back by saving three break points with as many service winners in the seventh game.
In the next game, the Swiss earned his first break opportunity of the match and converted it courtesy of an unforced error from his opponent to level the set at 4-4.
A tiebreak was looming when Davydenko fired a backhand long to drop serve in the 12th game and lose the set after 51 minutes.
The second set was tight until Davydenko broke Federer with a raging backhand winner to move 5-4 up. He then served for the set but Federer raised the level of his game with perfect timing.
A tiebreak was needed, in which Davydenko saved two set points before Federer converted a third with a service winner to take it 7-5.
Davydenko refused to give up and managed another break in the fourth game of the third set. He was 5-3 up when he served for the set but wasted two set points before being broken, again on an unforced error.
The set went to another tiebreak, in which Federer wasted a first match point with a unforced error and saved a break point with an ace before taking it 9-7.
The victory kept alive Federer's bid to become the third player to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time after Don Budge and Rod Laver.
The French Open 2007 coverage