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Flawless Nadal Sets Up Djokovic Blockbuster Final At Roland Garros

Paris, France

Nadal© AFP/Getty ImagesRafael Nadal reached his ninth Roland Garros final on Friday, after a flawless performance of power tennis against Andy Murray.

Rafael Nadal will play Novak Djokovic in a clash for No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on Sunday at Roland Garros.

Nadal needs to capture his ninth title on Parisian clay if he is to remain at No. 1 for a 138th week. He would be the first player in tennis history to lift five straight Roland Garros crowns.

But should Djokovic triumph for the first time he would rise to the summit of men's professional tennis for the first time since 6 October 2013 and become the eighth man to complete a career Grand Slam.

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Top seed Nadal improved to a 65-1 record at Roland Garros with a sensational 6-3, 6-2 6-1 win over seventh seed Andy Murray in the semi-finals on Friday. The match lasted one hour and 40 minutes. Nadal is now 15-5 lifetime against Murray in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series and within two victories of 700 career match wins.

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Nadal came out all-guns blazing. Nadal was impressive in his tactical execution early on, mainly firing serves to Murray’s backhand before moving up the court to strike a powerful winner. Only Djokovic, in recent times, has appeared to have been able to counter the ploy with well-placed crosscourt returns. Nadal, who has lost just once at Roland Garros in the past 10 years, looked in ominous form and took advantage of Murray’s slow start to take a 3-0 lead. Having started to strike good forehand length against his compatriot David Ferrer in a quarter-final win, Nadal used his killer shot with conviction and wrapped up the 34-minute first set with a forehand volley winner.

His rich vein of form continued throughout the second set, when Murray adjusted his position on the return of serve in a bid to make an impact on Nadal’s serve. It did not work. The Spaniard put his foot on the accelerator by breaking to 15 in the third and seventh games. The atmosphere fell flat on Court Philippe Chatrier as Nadal set about his business of further dissecting Murray’s game. Nadal did not lose a point on his first serve, while Murray won 12 points in total. The set lasted 31 minutes.

NadalPressed deeper behind the baseline, Murray was almost powerless in Nadal’s relentless pursuit of a ninth final. Fifty two per cent of his returns had fallen mid-court against one of the most lethal forehands in tennis history. Nadal struck a powerful smash to break for a 2-1 lead and by the time Murray miscued a forehand at 15/40 in the fifth game, the Scot’s time on-court was almost up. The fact that Nadal produced such a masterclass was an indication of the respect he has for Murray, who now switches his focus to retaining his Aegon Championships and Wimbledon titles.

On Sunday, Nadal will shoot for his 14th major trophy. If he triumphs, he will become the first player to win at least one major per season for 10 straight years.

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