Photo: Paul ZimmerNovak Djokovic (SRB)
DAY 13: Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will face each other in the men’s singles final at Roland Garros after they both recorded routine semifinal wins on a blustery Friday afternoon in Paris.
Nadal was first up against David Ferrer and barely broke sweat during a 62 62 61 demolition of his fellow Spaniard in 1 hour 46 minutes, while Djokovic overcame the man who knocked him out at the same stage last year, Roger Federer, 64 75 63 in 2 hours 5 minutes.
The day promised to be a classic but turned out to be somewhat of a damp squib as the quality of the world’s best two players shone through once again. This will now be their fourth straight meeting in a Grand Slam final with both players having more than just another major crown at stake.
Nadal is bidding to become the first man to ever win seven Roland Garros titles, eclipsing the record he currently shares with Bjorn Borg, while Djokovic is attempting to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four major titles at the same time.
The Serb’s achievement, if he manages it, wouldn’t be classified as a ‘Grand Slam’ in the purest form because it’s not been completed in the same calendar year, but if he claims the ‘Novak Slam’ then it would be hard to bet against him following up with victories at Wimbledon and the US Open, and also the Olympics.
Nadal hits top gear
Nadal was in simply irresistible form as he pummelled Ferrer with relentless baseline hitting, regularly cleaning the lines during what he described as one of the ‘best matches’ he has ever played at Roland Garros.
“Sure was one of my best matches in this court,” said Nadal. “I think I played really solid match with not easy conditions out there, a lot of wind.
“In my opinion I did almost everything right because my serve worked very well, changing directions. My backhand was the best day so far today. The forehand, I hit well the forehand during all the tournament. Today wasn't an exception.”
Ferrer actually started off brightly and had a chance to break Nadal to take a 3-1 lead in the first set, but the world No. 2 quickly shut the door and after that the match was never really a contest.
“I don't believe in perfection,” said Nadal. “I really don't like to talk about perfection because that, my opinion, doesn't exist. You can play always better. But, sure, I am very happy the way that I am playing. Probably today was my best much on the tournament.”
Djokovic step closer to ‘Novak Slam’
The second semifinal wasn’t quite as one-sided as the first with Federer having plenty of chances to make a fight of it, but ultimately he was too inconsistent on the big points and Djokovic capitalised with his best performance of the tournament so far.
Federer failed to convert a lead in the first set, then in the second he broke Djokovic three times and served for the set at 5-4, but despite playing some sublime tennis on occasions his error count was too high and ultimately these mistakes cost him dearly. He ended up with 46 unforced errors.
Next up for Djokovic is an eagerly anticipated showdown with Nadal, the king of clay. The two players have met 32 times and the Spaniard leads the series 18-14. However, Djokovic redressed the balance somewhat in 2011 by winning all six of their matches.
This year, Djokovic prevailed in their classic five-set final at the Australian Open, but Nadal bounced back with a pair of clay court wins at the Masters 1000 events in Monte Carlo and Rome.
“He plays always his best here in Roland Garros, and so I expect to do that as well on Sunday,” said Djokovic. “I know that I have to be playing consistently well on very high level in order to win best‑of‑five against Nadal here.
“It's an ultimate challenge. But I believe that today was the best match of 2012 Roland Garros for me, so I've raised my game when I needed to. I played really well when it was the most important, so that's something that gives me confidence obviously before the finals.”
Errani on verge of historic double
With everyone’s focus on the men’s singles semifinals inside Court Philippe Chatrier, Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci sealed the women’s doubles title on Court Suzanne Lenglen with a 46 64 62 victory over Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova.
It was the Italian duo’s first ever Grand Slam title as they went one better than their runner-up finish at the Australian Open earlier in the year.
Errani, who is showing the best form of her career, now has the chance to become the first player since Mary Pierce in 2000 to do the double at Roland Garros when she takes on Maria Sharapova in the singles final on Saturday.
Follow all action from Paris on the official tournament website: RolandGarros.com