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Nadal sets up classic French final

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PARIS, France -- Two-time defending champion Rafael Nadal set up a dream French Open final against Roger Federer with an impressive straight sets victory over Serbian Novak Djokovic on Friday.

Nadal was at his remorseless best to wear down Djokovic 7-5 6-4 6-2 in just under two and a half hours on the Philippe Chatrier court at Roland Garros.

It was his 20th straight victory at the claycourt grand slam as he bids to become the first man since the legendary Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win the French title three times in a row.

"I am so happy with this win," Nadal said. "I started so well and my forehand was working well forcing him to run a lot.

"After the first set I was well on my way and it makes it very difficult for anyone to win three sets in a row against me."

Djokovic, 20, playing in his first grand slam semifinal, started brightly against the world number two, but could not sustain the excellence he displayed in a tense 66-minute first set.

The highlight for the sixth seed was breaking Nadal to come back from 2-5 down to level up at 5-5.

But he lost his service immediately and Nadal re-asserted his dominance by holding his own to take a lead he never relinquished.

Djokovic failed to convert three break points for a 2-0 lead in the second set and he was made to pay the price in the seventh game when Nadal again used his big forehand to devastating effect.

The 21-year-old Spaniard set up break point by whipping one down the line at full stretch to his left after Djokovic had thought he had hit a winning volley.

He then ran down a drop shot with ease to hammer home his advantage.

Nadal served for the set at 5-4, let slip three set points, saved a break point with an ace and then finally clinched it when Djokovic hit a forehand marginally long.

A clearly dispirited Djokovic was briefly jeered by the crowd as Nadal raced to a 4-0 lead in the third set, but he restored pride by holding his own service twice although to no avail.

"I showed to myself and to everybody else that I have enough quality to be in the top three and four of the world," he said.

"And this semifinal can bring me only positive things, because I can see that I can reach the last four of such a tournament."


Nadal would not be denied on his way to a third French Open final.

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