INTERNAZIONALI BNL D'ITALIA 2014
Nadal Makes Quick Work Of Dimitrov For Ninth Rome Final Berth
by ATP Staff|
The top seed, who will square off with rival Novak Djokovic in a blockbuster final, spent a combined eight hours and 43 minutes in defeating Gilles Simon, Mikhail Youzhny and Andy Murray entering the semis, but righted the ship with a mere 82-minute triumph on Saturday.
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"I think I started the match in a perfect way, in the second set he made more mistakes than usual," reflected Nadal. "But, talking about myself, I played a solid match and was very good with my backhand. Yesterday I played a great match and today was a good confirmation that I play better, that the forehand starts to fly again, the top spins as well. A lot of positive things."
The Spaniard advanced to his ninth final in Rome and 40th at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level. He will seek an unprecedented eighth crown at the Foro Italico after prevailing in 2005-'07, '09-'10 and '12-'13, riding a 14-match win streak into the title match.
The victory gave Nadal his 51st consecutive clay-court semi-final win, advancing to his 91st tour-level final. The World No. 1 now sits alone in sixth place on the all-time finals list, breaking a tie with Andre Agassi.
Dimitrov was competing in his first Masters 1000 semi-final, having won his maiden clay-court title three weeks ago in Bucharest.
Nadal cruised from the first game, breaking to love out of the gates when a Dimitrov backhand found the net. He would secure a second break in the opening set for 5-2 as his depth and weight of shot continued to rattle the 23 year old.
Another break to open the second set all but sealed the victory for Nadal, who won 73 per cent of second serve points and saved all three break points faced. Dimitrov struggled with many mid-court balls in rallies, hitting 32 unforced errors.
Nadal improves to 5-0 in the pair's FedEx ATP Head2Head series. It was the first straight-sets victory in their budding rivalry.
"Djokovic always plays unbelievable, he’s a complete player and has all the shots," said Nadal about his impending encounter with Djokovic. "If I want to have chances to win I have to play my best tennis, be aggressive. It will be a very tough match. That’s the only way. I have to be ready for the competition."