Nadal into fourth straight Paris final over DjokovicBy Bill Scott

June 7th, 2008 - 1:05 am ICT by IANS  

DPA
Paris, June 6 (DPA) Rafael Nadal survived a spirited third-set fightback to subdue Novak Djokovic Friday, booking a place in a fourth consecutive final at the French Open 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3). The Spaniard will face off on Sunday against the winner from a semi-final between number one Roger Federer and budding French hero Gael Monfils.

Nadal stands within one victory of a record-equalling fourth straight title at the event, where he holds a 27-0 record.

The Spaniard improved to 8-3 over Djokovic, who had been bidding to back up his Australian Open title from January and would have snatched the number two ranking from Nadal with a victory Friday.

Nadal is bidding to pull level with Bjorn Borg - in the audience for the match from the presidential box - on four straight trophies at Roland Garros.

The king of clay from Spain was motoring along, up two sets and two breaks when Djokovic suddenly found a seam of punishing form.

“I stayed calm against a dangerous player,” said Nadal. “At 6-4, 6-2 I was in control and suddenly I had set point against me.

“That shows how important it is to play well all the time. It’s very important for me to get to another final.

“I’m very very satisfied, it was a tough match. Novak played very well, especially from 0-3 down. I stayed calm against a dangerous player.”

The third-seeded Serb recovered both third-set breaks to level the set at 5-5, winning a subtle drop volley battle at the end.

He also forced Nadal to save a set point in the 12th game, which the three-time champion at Roland Garros did with a pass.

As the set hit a tiebreaker, Nadal suddenly lifted, racing out to 6-0 and six match points.

But Djokovic also throttled up to save three before falling victim to an overhead smash on Nadal’s fourth opportunity.

“I’m very happy, it was an important match for me,” said Nadal. “I remain on second in the world.”

The Spaniard also shrugged off the inevitable comparisons to Borg.

“How could I dare compare myself to Borg,” said the 22-year-old. “He was one of the top three players in all the history of tennis.

“That’s very kind comparing me to such a huge player.”

Djokovic admitted that overcoming Nadal on his “home” court is a massive challenge.

“Centre court suits to his game, sometimes it’s really frustrating when you can’t make a winner. My game is based on aggressivity. I try to go for the shots, and I either make mistakes or I make winners and try to put pressure on my opponent.”

The loser said that his fighting spirit kept him going even well down in the third set.

“In a split second I’m two sets down and double break down, but I was still trying, I didn’t want to give up,” said Djokovic.

“It’s semi-finals of the Grand Slam. Of course, there’s a lot at stake on that match and everybody’s watching it. I just don’t like to give up, so I wasn’t trying to give up. I did everything I could.

“I expected a lot from this match. I feel sorry that I lost. I’m not depressed,” Djokovic said.
DPA

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