Tennis / Sports

No surprises as Nadal, Djokovic storm into French open final

PARIS -- Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic fulfilled predictions by setting up their third final of the season as both mowed down outclassed opponents Friday at the French Open.

Nadal, one win away from a record ninth title at the event, barely noticed Andy Murray as he blasted past the seventh seed in a clinical 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 win.

Djokovic, who confessed to feeling poorly at times in losing the third set, made an instant recovery to beat Latvian Ernests Gulbis 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Nadal improved his untouchable Paris record to 65 wins and a 2009 loss as he moved into his 20th Grand Slam final.

The Spanish king of clay has now won 34 consecutive matches at Roland Garros and had long been tipped to reach the final along with Djokovic. Nadal will be playing his ninth Paris final in ten years.

Nadal has a score to settle after losing to the Serbian in the Miami and Rome finals this spring.

The Spaniard needs to win the title to retain the No. 1 ranking in the face of the steady Djokovic charge.

"I played my best clay tennis of the season today. It's a dream to reach another final. Novak is an unbelievable opponent," Nadal said.

"For me, the only motivation is Roland Garros. It doesn't matter (if he can win) five in a row, four, or one. For me, always when I have a chance to win Roland Garros, it is a special thing."

Murray was downcast after taking his beating and was puzzling through what happened.

"I was missing a lot of balls, and this frustrated me. I'm happy that the grass season is starting soon. I'll need to bounce back quickly from it, because I'm not particularly happy with the way I played today," Murray said.

"It was a bad, bad day for me. I never want to forget about matches, but I need to switch my mind to grass. I don't know why I lost, to be honest, but I've only got myself to blame."

Djokovic played precision tennis for just over two and a half hours against Gulbis. but was barely troubled by the 17th-ranked Latvian.

Djokovic stands 5-1 in their series after winning with nine aces, 30 winners and five breaks of serves from 10 chances. Gulbis struck 40 winners and 44 unforced errors in his go-for-broke bid.

The victory extended Djokovic's current win streak to 11 matches, as he keeps alive his dream of completing a Grand Slam set. Roland Garros is the only major which he has never won after playing the 2012 final against Nadal.

While not wishing to speak to his drop in the third set, Djokovic did admit: "Suddenly midway through the third set I started to feel physically fatigued a little bit, and you could feel that."

He added: "It happens, but the important thing is that I realized what's going on. It's (health) nothing serious. I'm going to have now two days of recovery and get ready for the final."

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