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Rediff.com  » Sports » French Open PHOTOS: Nadal strolls past Murray; to meet Djokovic in final

French Open PHOTOS: Nadal strolls past Murray; to meet Djokovic in final

Last updated on: June 06, 2014 22:39 IST

French Open PHOTOS: Nadal strolls past Murray; faces Djokovic in final

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Defending champion Rafa Nadal played his best tennis to set up a much awaited French Open showdown against Novak Djokovic with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 demolition of Wiimbledon champion Andy Murray in the semi-finals on Friday.

World No 1 Nadal, an eight-time Roland Garros winner, did not concede a single break point in a one-sided encounter on court Philippe Chatrier, hammering the British seventh seed with forehand winners.

Murray, looking to become the first British man since tennis turned professional in 1968 to reach the final in Paris, was never in the contest, making too many unforced errors on his usually reliable forehand.

Top seed Nadal wrapped it up on his first match point with a smash on Murray's serve.

"I think I played one of my best tennis at Roland Garros today," said Nadal, who extended his French Open record to 65-1.

"I'm very emotional to reach the final again here. It's a dream. Novak is an unbelievable opponent."

World No 2 Djokovic, who beat Latvian 18th seed Ernests Gulbis in the other semi-final, is one of three men who have beaten Nadal on his favoured red dirt this year.

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Image: Rafael Nadal plays a return against Andy Murray on Friday
Photographs: Vincent Kessler/Reuters

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Murray won only 10 points on his opponent's serve

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Nadal hit 24 winners, most of them with his forehand, against a helpless Murray, and converted the six break points he had.

In hot weather which favoured Nadal's top spin, Murray never had a chance and he won only 10 points on his opponent's serve.

Nadal conceded three of them as he raced into a 3-0 lead after breaking in the second game when his opponent netted a forehand.

Murray held for the remainder of the set but could not trouble the Spaniard on his serve and Nadal bagged it with a casual forehand volley.

In the third game of the second set, the man from Mallorca broke when Murray sent an easy forehand wide.

Nadal turned the screw in the seventh game, stealing Murray's serve again as the world number eight made yet another unforced forehand error.

He had already waved the white flag and Nadal, who has an 88-1 record in best-of-five set matches on clay, quickly put him out of his misery in the final set to reach his fifth consecutive Roland Garros final.

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Image: Andy Murray of Britain reacts during his men's semi-final match against Rafael Nadal of Spain on Friday
Photographs: Stephane Mahe/Reuters

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Djokovic sets up another tilt at career slam in Paris

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Novak Djokovic eventually wore down mercurial Latvian Ernests Gulbis 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the French Open semi-finals on Friday but only after suffering a sudden loss of form in the process.

The Serbian world No.2 was cruising at two sets ahead but his level dipped suddenly allowing Gulbis to make a real match of it before he managed to finish the job and remain on course for the only grand slam title to elude him.

Djokovic was overpowered by Gulbis in the third set and seemed to be lacking energy but some errors by his opponent in the fourth spared him being dragged into a decider.

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Image: Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates victory in his men's singles semi-final against Ernests Gulbis of Latvia
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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18th seed Gulbis stunned Djokovic in the third set

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The number two seed displayed ice cool efficiency in the first two sets, more consistent from the baseline and clinical when the chances arose in the pair's first match since 2011.

But moments of casual brilliance from 18th seed Gulbis stunned Djokovic in the third which he sealed with an ace after breaking the serve of his worried-looking opponent.

Suddenly what had looked like a straightforward afternoon on Phillipe Chatrier court for Djokovic, last year's runner-up, threatened to turn ugly.

However, he upped his level in the fourth as Gulbis started to wilt, earning the right to take on king of clay Rafa Nadal or Wimbledon champion Andy Murray in Sunday's final.

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Image: Novak Djokovic of Serbia shakes hands with Ernests Gulbis of Latvia
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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Gulbis matched Djokovic's athleticism

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Gulbis, who had reached the last four of a grand slam for the first time after 27 attempts, mostly matched Djokovic's athleticism scrambling around the court but neither appeared to really hit top gear on the hottest day of the tournament.

Djokovic will have to draw deeper on his stamina, belief and weapons if he meets Nadal who is looking for his ninth title on the Paris clay.

Reaching Sunday's clash mean's Djokovic becomes just the sixth man since tennis turned professional in 1968 to reach multiple finals in each grand slam.

Djokovic will reclaim the world number one spot if Nadal fails to win the title.


Image: Ernests Gulbis of Latvia returns a shot during his men's singles semi-final against Novak Djokovic
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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