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Rediff.com  » Sports » PHOTOS: Nadal thwarts Djokovic, to face Ferrer in final

PHOTOS: Nadal thwarts Djokovic, to face Ferrer in final

Last updated on: June 8, 2013 00:30 IST

Nadal edges Djokovic to reach eighth Paris final

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Rafael Nadal displayed the athleticism and self-belief that earned him seven French Open titles to tame Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7(3), 9-7 in a pulsating 4-1/2 hour Roland Garros semi-final on Friday.

In a match of high drama featuring a point penalty, a near tumble over the net, trick-shot mishaps, warnings for time wasting and angry outbursts, it was the sinew-stretching rallies that made the difference.

Nadal withstood world number one Djokovic's tendon-twisting baseline onslaught to extend his run at the claycourt major to a jaw-dropping 58-1 and reached an unprecedented eighth Paris final against fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.

"This is very special for me," a hugely relieved Nadal said in French in a courtside interview as sweat dripped off his face.

"Novak is a fighter... and he will win here one day. But I was ready for the fight."


Image: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates match point in the semi-final match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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Djokovic threatened to give Nadal a rough ride

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In the 35th meeting between the players, Djokovic had threatened to give Nadal a rough ride as he won four games on the trot to take the second set but the Serb was quickly given a reality check when he claimed only 12 points in a hopelessly one-sided third set.

Nadal then stood two points from the final in the fourth set when he inexplicably let Djokovic off the hook by dropping serve at 6-5 up, the Serb hitting an audacious forehand winner to break before saluting his camp with a raised fist.

The Spaniard's winners suddenly dried up and his shoulders started sagging as Djokovic blew a hole through his master game-plan by blitzing through the fourth set tiebreak 7-3.

Djokovic thumped his chest with a clenched fist and then threatened to thump Nadal in the fifth as he streaked into a 4-2 lead.

But Roland Garros is Nadal's domain and over the years grand slam champions in the calibre of Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Lleyton Hewitt, Juan Martin del Potro and Carlos Moya have all tried - and failed - to conquer the claycourt supremo.


Image: Novak Djokovic of Serbia applauds the fans as he walks off court after losing to Rafa Nadal
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images

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An opponent hot and bothered is exactly what Nadal wanted

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Djokovic, six times a major winner, turned out to be no different.

Serving at 4-3 up and 40-40, Djokovic was first left fuming when he was warned by umpire Pascal Maria for time wasting.

He reacted by launching into his serve and emphatically smashed the ball away for a point that should have moved him to advantage. But he bizarrely almost tipped over the net and the umpire awarded the point to Nadal, leaving Djokovic to gesticulate wildly and argue loudly.

An opponent hot and bothered is exactly what Nadal wanted and he needed no second invitation to pounce and break.

If that was bad for Djokovic, two games later Nadal illustrated the different mindset of the players when he hit a between-the-leg trick shot while running towards the baseline and the Serbian promptly smashed the ball into the net.

The crowd howled, Nadal grinned sheepishly and Djokovic threw daggers.

"You are not even looking at the court," Djokovic raged at the umpire during the changeover. "You are not taking any decisions."

Ten minutes later, Nadal took the decision out of everyone's hands when the top seed hit a forehand long on match point, leaving the Spaniard to leap into the air in celebration.


Image: Rafael Nadal of Spain shakes hands at the net with Novak Djokovic of Serbia after their semi-final
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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Ferrer brushes Tsonga aside to reach first grand slam final

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David Ferrer reached his first grand slam final when he beat local favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 7-6(3), 6-2 in a one-sided semi-final to set up an all-Spanish clash with seven-times champion Rafa Nadal.

Fourth seed Ferrer, yet to drop a set at Roland Garros this year, was barely challenged by sixth seed Tsonga who was unable to focus throughout the match.



Image: David Ferrer of Spain celebrates match point during the semi-final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images

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Tsonga who was unable to focus throughout

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Tsonga, bidding to become the first Frenchman into his home slam final since Henri Leconte in 1988, failed to match Ferrer's pace and capitulated after just over two hours.

Ferrer fell on his back on to the red clay after a Tsonga forehand went long as the man from Valencia set up the first all-Spanish final at Roland Garros since Alberto Costa beat Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2002.



Image: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France looks on as he takes a break during the semi-final against David Ferrer of Spain
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images

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