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Federer Sets Epic Finale Against Nadal

Rome, Italy

Federer© AFP/Getty ImagesRoger Federer is bidding to win the Rome title for the first time.

Roger Federer will renew his epic rivalry with Rafael Nadal in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia final. Federer trails 10-19 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series and will attempt to beat the Spaniard on clay for just the third time in 15 attempts. 

It will be their second contest of the season, with Nadal having won in straight sets when they met in the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in March. Seven years ago, they played out one of the greatest clay-court finals in Rome, with Nadal prevailing in a fifth set tie-break after five hours and five minutes. 

The 31-year-old Federer defeated Benoit Paire 7-6(5), 6-4 to reach his first ATP World Tour final of the season. The Swiss is bidding to win the title at the Foro Italico for the first time, having finished runner-up in 2003 (l. to Mantilla) and 2006.

“I think it was a tricky match. He's pretty tough to play against,” said Federer. “He's very long and tall and can serve really well at times. He has great shot selection and execution sometimes, so it's really difficult. 

“I'm very happy with how things went for me. It could have gone either way again like yesterday against Janowicz, so to come through in straight sets shows that I'm comfortable. When it's close, I am not doubting myself a whole lot, which is always a good thing heading into a final.” 

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Federer has won 21 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles, two less than Nadal, who won his 23rd of the prestigious trophies last week at the Mutua Madrid Open.

In some of the best form of his career, World No. 36 Paire had recorded his first Top 10 win with victory over No. 7-ranked Juan Martin del Potro in the third round. The Frenchman did not make life easy for Federer in their third meeting. He squandered a break advantage at 4-3 in the first set and held a mini-break lead three times in the ensuing tie-break before Federer won the final three points to claim the hard-fought set in 52 minutes.

Federer made early inroads on Paire’s serve in the second set, breaking for a 2-1 lead. The Swiss rescued a 15/40 deficit in the sixth game and went on to secure victory in 88 minutes. Federer is yet to drop a set in four matches this week.

Federer improved to a 3-0 lead in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Paire, having also beaten the 24 year old in the 2012 Basel quarter-finals and in the first round of this year’s Australian Open.

Paire, who reached his second ATP World Tour final in February at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier (l. to Gasquet), was looking to become the first unseeded finalist in Rome since Stanislas Wawrinka in 2008.

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