Rafael Nadal will face fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in Sunday’s French Open final after overcoming Novak Djokovic in a five set spectacular on Friday afternoon.
The seven times Roland Garros king emerged a 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-7 9-7 victor after more than four and a hours on Court Phillipe Chatrier which arguably witnessed the best clash of this year’s championship.
Nadal began the contest a narrow favourite and understandably so, as World No.1 Djokovic was bidding to become only the second man to ever beat him at the venue following Robin Soderling’s heroics back in 2009.
The Serbian was bang in contention to replicate Soderling’s feat after taking the second set impressively to level matters, but the match was soon to fall out of his grasp in the third where Nadal dominated, breaking serve on three occasions to race back into the lead and put one foot firmly in Sunday’s showpiece.
Djokovic’s response in the fourth was however, to say the least, typical of his granite tough persona as he hit back to force a tie-break with Nadal poised to serve for the match.
A 7-3 success in the breaker gave Djokovic impetus going into the decider and he continued to suck momentum away from his opponent by breaking in the opening game of the fifth, before confidently holding serve until midway through the set.
It was at 4-3 however when events once again turned as a woeful smash attempt from Djokovic hit the net and helped Nadal get back on terms.
The next seven games stayed with serve until Nadal finally ended the battle in the 16th game with a wonderful forehand winner which preceded a tired, overcooked forehand from Djokovic.
The result takes Nadal’s Roland Garros record to an incredible 58-1, figures which he will be fancied to enhance further in the final against Ferrer who is currently on the wrong end of a 19-4 head to head with his illustrious countryman.
Ferrer did, however, come through his last four tie against Jo Wilfried Tsonga with a great deal of ease and will certainly have no excuses on the physical front should he lose at the weekend.
The 31-year-old reached his first Grand Slam final at the 42nd attempt with a consummate 6-1 7-6 6-2 triumph, which although impressive, was perhaps a little flattering considering how jaded Tsonga appeared throughout, the Frenchman well below par from his quarter-final trouncing of Roger Federer.
Injuries and complications permitting, Nadal should comfortably achieve his eighth Roland Garros crown with Ferrer’s limitations against him already exposed.
Serena Williams takes on defending champion Maria Sharapova in the Women’s final on Saturday and the American is a hot favourite to dethrone her Russian rival.
Williams sauntered through her semi-final against Sara Errani dropping just the solitary game and it was a performance which should be too much for Sharapova if repeated considering the latter’s efforts en route to the final.
Sharapova keeps finding her way past opponents but the 6-0 drubbing she received in the first set of her semi against Victoria Azarenka raises huge question marks about her current game and Williams is unlikely to allow her a similar passage back into the match.