Rafael Nadal confirmed his status as hot favourite by crushing Novak Djokovic in the first semi-final of the French Open. The Spaniard qualified for his 4th consecutive final, where he will meet either Roger Federer or French sensation Gael Monfils.
Rafael Nadal demolished Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) on Friday to move just one victory away from joining Bjorn Borg as the only man to win four successive French Open titles.
Borg, who completed his sequence from 1978-1981 and picked up six Roland Garros singles titles, was watching from the sidelines as the Spanish second seed claimed his 27th win in 27 Roland Garros matches.
The 22-year-old will now face either top seed Roger Federer, who has lost the last two finals to the Spaniard, or unseeded Frenchman Gael Monfils, in Sunday's title match.
"The third set was tough because he started to play really well," said Nadal.
"It's important to get to another final and I hope to do a good job."
Djokovic, the third seed from Serbia, had high hopes of ending the Spaniard's unbeaten record in Paris and taking the champion's world number two ranking.
Playing in his fifth successive Grand Slam semi-final, he was also buoyed by having pushed Nadal to a three-set decider in the last four at Hamburg on the eve of Roland Garros.
But, apart from a late, third set rally, he was completely outplayed.
"The first two sets were very bad. I had no rhythm and was hitting too many unforced errors," said Djokovic.
"Then I decided to go for my shots and try everything or nothing. But I wasn't moving like I was in Hamburg.
"He showed once again that he is very strong mentally. He's the best defensive player in the world and plays every point as if it's match point. The better player won today."
Nadal broke to lead 2-1 in the first set before the Serbian, who struggled with his serve in the cool, blustery conditions, started to try and mix up his game, throwing in drop shots amidst lengthy, punishing rallies.
But always Nadal found a devastating reply.
Djokovic, who had lost to Nadal here in the previous two years, picked up a code violation in the 10th game for launching the ball into the upper reaches of the Court Philippe Chatrier in a sign of utter frustration.
Nadal was also ticked off for a time violation but it didn't prevent him from taking the first set.
The champion then broke in the first game of the second set and fought off a break point against him in the fourth to lead 3-1.
That became 4-1 as Djokovic, run ragged by Nadal's all-court mastery, was broken to love and then 5-1 courtesy of another dominant service game.
With the second set wrapped up, Nadal then stormed into a 3-0 lead in the third.
But Djokovic held on, squaring the set in the 10th game when Nadal was serving for the match and even carved out a set point in the 12th game before the champion rallied to ensure the tiebreak.
That was as good as it got for Djokovic as Nadal romped away with the breaker and into another Roland Garros final.
Date created : 2008-06-06