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Page last updated at 17:33 GMT, Friday, 6 June 2008 18:33 UK
Roland Garros, Paris, 25 May-8 June

French Open: Sunday 25 May to Sunday 8 June
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Highlights: Federer v Monfils

World number one Roger Federer saw off a brave challenge from Gael Monfils to set up a dream final against Rafael Nadal at the French Open.

Federer, who has lost to Nadal in the last two finals, came through 6-2 5-7 6-3 7-5 against Frenchman Monfils.

Nadal earlier swept aside world number three Novak Djokovic 6-4 6-2 7-6 (7-3).

The Spaniard, chasing Bjorn Borg's mark of four back-to-back titles, was in awesome form as he kept up his unbeaten record at Roland Garros.

It will be a major surprise if Nadal does not make it 28 straight wins on Sunday when he faces Federer for the fourth year running in Paris.

The 22-year-old admitted he had produced a near-perfect performance to see off Djokovic, the form player this season.

I am just relieved to have gone through

Roger Federer

"Maybe the way the match turned out today was easier than I expected," said the three-times champion.

"I was not expecting to play at this level. I was very dominant, I could put the ball anywhere I wanted.

"I was dominating both on my forehand and backhand, and I didn't think that I could make mistakes. That was key."

Federer, meanwhile, looked poised for an easy win when he raced through the first set against unseeded Frenchman Monfils, playing in his first Grand Slam semi-final.

However, the top seed appeared to lose focus in the second set, allowing a pumped-up Monfils to level.

But Federer earned an early break of serve in the third set and never really looked like losing his grip on the match.

Monfils had six break points in the fourth set and bravely saved two match points at 4-5 to the delight of a partisan crowd, but Federer eventually closed out victory after three hours five minutes.

"The key was the first game when he allowed me to break and after that he was behind all the time," said Federer.

"But he held on and battled hard and I am just relieved to have gone through.

"It was hard to play against him. He is such a great talent and now he has shown it on a big stage."

Monfils blamed a broken contact lens for ending his hopes of becoming the first Frenchman to win the Roland Garros crown for 25 years.

"I couldn't see well, so I tried to put some eye drops in at the beginning of the match," said Monfils.

"Then it didn't work, so I asked the doctor to come on the court. That didn't work.

"I think part of my contact lens stayed, remained in my eye. I managed to take the other part out, but there was one part left."

Monfils added: "I am disappointed, there was an opening for me there."

Djokovic came into his semi-final against Nadal hoping to prove the gap between world number three and two was closing.

But the Serb quickly learned what kind of match he was in for when he was forced to stave off break points in the very first game on Philippe Chatrier.

But it did not take long for Nadal to break at 2-1 on his way to taking the opening set in just under an hour without facing a single break point.

There was more of the same in the second, as the world number two lashed down a series of powerful groundstrokes for a 2-0 lead.

Djokovic carved out his first break chance in the third game, but Nadal snuffed it out with a unreturnable serve and broke again at 4-1 to race to a two-set advantage.


The Spaniard appeared to be cruising to an easy win as he broke twice for a 3-0 lead in the third - but to his credit, Djokovic refused to throw the towel in.

Right at the last, the Serb, who won the Australian Open in January, finally found his form, recovering both breaks and even earning a set point at 6-5.

But Nadal saved it with a wrong-footing forehand and the momentum swung back in his favour in the tiebreak.

The Spaniard chased down every ball and returned it with precision and power to clinch it 7-3, and move one match away from a fourth title on the Roland Garros clay.

"The first two sets were very bad," admitted Djokovic, who has now lost eight of his 11 meetings with Nadal.

"I had no rhythm and was hitting too many unforced errors. Then I decided to go for my shots and try everything or nothing.

"He showed once again that he is very strong mentally. He's the best defensive player in the world and plays every point as if it's match point. The better player won today."

see also
French Open day 13 pictures
06 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Djokovic v Nadal as it happened
06 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Nadal to meet Djokovic in semis
03 Jun 08 |  Tennis

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