June 8, 2012
Djokovic, Nadal to meet in blockbuster French final
By SPORTS NETWORK
PARIS, FRANCE - World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and six-time champion Rafael Nadal will meet in the French Open final for the first time Sunday in Paris.
Djokovic won his 27th straight Grand Slam match Friday with a 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 victory over former champ Roger Federer, while the second seed and former No. 1 Nadal steamrolled sixth-seeded fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in the other men's semifinal on Court Chatrier.
The Belgrade native Djokovic will now play in his first-ever French Open final, while Nadal will appear in an Open Era-record seventh French final -- seeking a record seventh championship -- and fifth straight overall major final.
The reigning Australian Open, U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion Djokovic is trying to become the first man in 43 years to hold all four Grand Slam titles. Aussie legend Rod Laver was the last man to turn the trick when he captured all four majors in one year back in 1969. Laver, Federer and Nadal are three of the seven men's career Grand Slam artists.
After dropping the opening set, the Swiss great Federer appeared on his way to leveling the match with the Serbian Djokovic Friday, up a pair of breaks at 3-0 in the second, but Djokovic showed why he's the best player in the world by getting the breaks back, and then some. Djokovic piled up four breaks against a mistake-prone Federer in the stanza and captured seven of the final nine games to seize control of the bout.
"I was actually feeling particularly well in the second set, and that one hurts the most to lose," Federer said. "In the third, I don't know, I just wasn't able to put a good game together anymore. You're down two sets to nothing against Novak and it's not the same match anymore. He goes for broke and has no fear and that's about it."
The third set was never in doubt for Djokovic, who converted on his second match point when Federer netted one final unforced error, his 46th of the match, after 2 hours, 5 minutes of tennis. Djokovic broke Federer seven times, while Federer settled for four breaks in the Day-13 setback.
The start of their final-four affair was delayed by rain for a short time.
The 25-year-old Djokovic is now 12-14 lifetime versus the 30-year-old Federer. The Serb beat the Swiss in a semifinal in Rome last month and has now won six of their last seven matches overall. Last year, Federer topped Djokovic in four sets in the semis here, which prevented the Serb from reaching his first final at Roland Garros and halted a 45-match overall winning streak by Djokovic.
The five-time major champion Djokovic competed in his fourth French semi (1-3), while the third-seeded Federer played in French semi number seven (5-2) Friday.
Federer appeared in his 29th semifinal in his last 32 Grand Slam events. The 16-time major champ captured his lone French Open title in 2009 to complete a career Slam and has been a four-time Roland Garros runner-up to Nadal, including last year.
The former No. 1 Federer hasn't captured a major title since the 2010 Aussie Open.
Nadal-Ferrer was interrupted by rain for 55 minutes in the second set, with the score at 6-2, 4-1. When the players returned to the court, the luck did not change for Ferrer, who was broken seven times and defeated in a mere 1 hour, 46 minutes.
The amazing Nadal has lost only one set in seven semifinals at the French.
The reigning two-time Roland Garros titlist Nadal improved to 16-4 lifetime against Ferrer, including a 3-0 record this year and a quarterfinal victory here in Paris in 2005. Nadal has won their last five meetings overall.
The 30-year-old Ferrer competed in his first-ever French Open semifinal and third career Grand Slam semi (0-3) on Friday.
Nadal is an astounding 51-1 lifetime at Roland Garros and has yet to lose a set at this 2012 French fortnight. The 10-time Grand Slam champ beat Federer in last year's finale at the world's lone clay-court major.
The powerful Nadal is trying to become the first man in the Open Era to capture seven French Open titles. He and Bjorn Borg are a pair of six-time winners.
Djokovic and Nadal will meet for a 33rd time, with the Spaniard leading the all-time series 18-14. Nadal is 2-1 against the Serb this year, with his victories coming at clay-court Masters events in Monte Carlo and Rome.
Nadal is 5-3 against Djokovic in Grand Slam play, but the Serb has won their last three encounters, this year's Aussie Open final and last year's Wimbledon and U.S. Open finales.
"I hope we'll play a shorter match because playing six hours in Australia was very long," Djokovic said. "But it was a great match. I think it was the most beautiful match of my life, of my career. I look forward to another beautiful match."
Djokovic is 30-16 in his career ATP finals, including a 2-2 mark this year. He won the Aussie Open and Miami Masters earlier this season.
Djokovic is 5-2 in his career Grand Slam finals and has won four of the last five major titles, including three straight.
Nadal is 49-21 in his career finals, including a 3-1 mark this year.
The 26-year-old Nadal is 10-5 in his career Grand Slam finals, including a flawless 6-0 record at the French.
The 2012 French Open champion will earn more than $1.5 million.