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Last Updated: Friday, 3 March 2006, 18:42 GMT
Nadal nets Federer final in Dubai
Rafael Nadal
Nadal beat Federer in last year's French Open semi-final
World number one Roger Federer will meet world number two Rafael Nadal in the Dubai Open final on Saturday.

It will be their first clash since Nadal's victory over Federer in last year's French Open semi-finals, a tournament the Spaniard went on to win.

Nadal booked his place in the final after cruising to a 6-4 6-2 win over Germany's Rainer Schuettler.

Swiss top seed Federer saw off the challenge of Russia's Mikhail Youzhny 6-2 6-3 without ever finding top gear.

Nadal had little difficulty defeating Schuettler, who was playing in his first semi-final since July 2004.

A break in the opening game gave the 19-year-old the perfect start.

The key is if Federer doesn't play his best. If he plays well, I don't know - I'll have to play unbelievably
Rafael Nadal

Schuettler rallied well to level at 4-4 but his opponent broke again and held serve for 6-4 before upping the ante and easing home in the second.

Nadal admitted that he will have to be at his very best to overcome Federer in the final.

"For sure it will be special match. He's the specialist in the finals but I won the last nine finals too," Nadal said.

"It's a difficult match but if I play my best I have a little bit of a chance.

"The key is if Federer doesn't play his best. If he plays well, I don't know - I'll have to play unbelievably."

Federer's win was not quite as comfortable as the scoreline suggests, with Youzny forcing numerous early break points.

But the Russian's failure to convert the break points eased the pressure, allowing Federer to pull clear.

Federer, who has won his last 56 matches on hard court, admitted he had got off to a slow start, before finding his form as the match progressed.

"I thought I maybe missed quite a few first serves early in the games that really allowed him to get his teeth into every service game," he said.

"But I served my way out of trouble, and played my way out of trouble. In the second set I played great tennis and I thought overall it was an excellent match.

"He had many chances early on to take the lead or get back at me, and it's hard really when you start off like he did (and get nothing) to really stay positive.

"He knows I'm going to probably pick up my game eventually and he's not going to have so many chances anymore."

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