RAFAEL Nadal and Novak Djokovic will meet in a fourth consecutive grand slam final at the French Open tomorrow, and the prize for the winner will be more than just the Coupe des Mousquetaires.
History has already been made as four straight finals have never been contested by the same two men before, while for Djokovic there is the carrot of becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all the titles.
Nadal can make a piece of history all of his own, for victory tomorrow, overturning the results in London, New York and Melbourne, would earn him a seventh Roland Garros crown and surpass the record mark he currently shares with Bjorn Borg. And he certainly goes in as the favourite after showing once again yesterday what supreme form he is in with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 thrashing of David Ferrer, while Djokovic defeated Roger Federer 6-4, 7-5, 6-3.
After the classic encounter between Djokovic and Federer last year, which went the way of the Swiss, yesterday’s match was a disappointment, the windy conditions on Court Philippe Chatrier certainly not helping.
The second set was the key, with Federer breaking twice to lead 3-0, Djokovic clawing his way back and then breaking the Swiss twice more, including when he served to level the match. The third was much more straightforward as Djokovic booked his place in his first French Open final, taking revenge after Federer ended his 43-match winning streak last year.
The Serbian, who saved four match points against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Tuesday, is still not entirely happy with his form, and he said: “I think I would really want myself not to have the downs that I had at the beginning of the second set.
“But I regrouped mentally and I came back. That’s really a positive, especially when you come back from a double break down. Against a player like Federer, it is a great achievement.”
Earlier, Nadal put on an absolute masterclass against Ferrer, who simply could do nothing about the relentless power and accuracy of his opponent.
Nadal won 19 of the last 22 points in the opening set and even a break in the second for a heavy shower did nothing to put the 26-year-old off his rhythm as he clinched victory in an hour and 46 minutes.
The Spaniard goes into today’s final having lost his serve only once, not dropped a set and lost just 35 games – the fewest since Bjorn Borg dropped 27 in 1978 on his way to the final.
Nadal said: “It was one of my best matches on this court. In my opinion I did almost everything right, because my serve worked very well, my backhand was the best day so far.
“I am very happy, but sorry for David. He’s a great fighter. He’s always there week after week.
“I really don’t like to talk about perfection, because that, in my opinion, doesn’t exist. You can always play better.”
Ferrer, who ousted Andy Murray in the quarter-finals, was content with his performances over the tournament as a whole and felt there was little he could have done to change the outcome.
The 30-year-old said: “I tried to do my best, but when the opponent was better than me, I can’t do anything.”