Nadal romps into French Open final
Rafael Nadal roared into his fifth French Open final today to set up a clash against the only man ever to have beaten him at Roland Garros.
Nadal, who turned 24 yesterday, brushed aside Jurgen Melzer 6-2 6-3 7-6 (8/6) in two hours and nine minutes in this afternoon's second semi-final after Robin Soderling took almost three-and-a-half hours to see off Tomas Berdych in the first.
Sunday's final will be a rematch of last year's fourth-round clash on Philippe Chatrier Court, which saw Soderling end Nadal's four-year unbeaten record in the tournament.
But despite following that up this year by stunning defending champion Roger Federer, Soderling will be a heavy underdog, with Nadal romping into the final without dropping a set.
Melzer, who came from two sets down to stun Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals, would have matched the record for the most number of grand slams played before reaching a final had he won this afternoon.
The 29-year-old was playing his 32nd major, while world number two Nadal - who will depose Federer as number one if he wins on Sunday - was looking for his ninth final in 24 attempts.
The Spaniard had won both their previous meetings in straight sets and started as if he fully intended to do the same today.
Nadal was ruthless in the first set, breaking to love in game six thanks to a Melzer double-fault.
He then saved a break point of his own before taking the Austrian's serve again to seal four games in a row and the set.
Nadal almost made it six straight games when Melzer slumped from 40-0 up to break point down in game two of the second set.
He held but was broken again in game four before going all-out attack to get back on serve.
However, Nadal immediately regained the advantage, and went on to serve out the set following a brief hiatus when a spectator needed attention for what might have been heatstroke.
The Spaniard was in a hurry and his forehand was in full flight to help him break Melzer to love at the start of the third set.
The Austrian battled gamely to avoid a quick finish and broke back to love when Nadal double-faulted serving for the match.
After Melzer survived a break point in game 11, the set went to a tie break.
A topsy-turvy affair saw Melzer save two match points - the first on Nadal's serve - before finally succumbing to a third.
Soderling earlier powered into his second successive Roland Garros final after coming from two sets to one down to beat Berdych.
Giant-killing Swede Soderling's dream of a maiden grand slam title hung in the balance when costly errors allowed his opponent to take control of the match.
But the 25-year-old fought back to win 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3 6-3 on a sun-baked Philippe Chatrier.
Today's semi-finals were the first in a grand slam not to involve Roger Federer since the 2004 French Open.
Berdych had already gone further than he had ever done at a grand slam.
The Czech - who crushed Andy Murray in round four - had not dropped a set all tournament and had comfortably beaten Soderling at the Miami Masters in April.
But despite making far fewer errors than the Swede, he was unable to match his opponent's impressive 62 winners.
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