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Nadal to meet Djokovic in semis

French Open: Sunday 25 May to Sunday 8 June
Coverage:
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Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic
Nadal beat Djokovic in straight sets in last year's semi-finals

Rafel Nadal and Novak Djokovic will meet in the French Open semi-finals for the second straight year after both won their quarter-finals in straight sets.

Third seed Djokovic had the tougher test, battling past Latvian teenager Ernests Gulbis 7-5 7-6 (7-3) 7-5.

Defending champion Nadal was in supreme form as he crushed fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 6-1 6-1 6-1.

The victory extended three-time champion Nadal's lifetime unbeaten record at Roland Garros to 26 matches.

"Before the match I thought it would be tough because Nicolas has a very good serve and forehand but his problem is movement," said Nadal, who was celebrating his 22nd birthday.

I don't want to go out there in semis and just try my best. I don't want to do that. I want to win

Novak Djokovic
"On centre court, it's not easy because of the wind and it's also very big so it's hard to adapt if you are not used to it.

"But he made a lot of mistakes. I controlled the points and I was feeling the ball better."

Almagro had been expected to provide the world number two with something of a test, having come into the tournament with more wins on clay this year than any other player.

But Nadal simply brushed him aside with his power and consistency from the baseline, making 47 winners and just nine unforced errors in one hour 44 minutes.

"Now I will face Djokovic and that will be a very tough match," said Nadal. "I beat him in the Hamburg semi-final but it was close.

"However, I feel as if I am improving and have got better and better."

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Djokovic was not at his ruthless best against Gulbis, with whom he was once a contemporary at the Niki Pilic academy in Munich.

"We knew each other's game, but we never met officially in the tournaments, so it was a bit tricky for both of us," said Djokovic.

"I knew that he was going to be aggressive and just go for the shots, so I was trying to be patient, you know, and just try to calm his game down a little bit."

Third seed Djokovic became increasingly frustrated as he failed to take any of an incredible 11 break points before finally sealing the opening set.

The second set was tighter still, the Serbian coming through in a tie-break as Gulbis showed flashes of brilliance.

And even when victory finally looked assured in the third, Djokovic could not serve out the match at the first opportunity as Gulbis came up with more winners.

The 19-year-old from Riga could not hang on, however, and several errors handed the break straight back to Djokovic, who closed out the match at the second time of asking.

And despite Nadal's imperious progress, Djokovic remains convinced he can end the Spaniard's domination of Roland Garros.

"It's impressive, of course," said the world number two. "He's been playing better and better. He improve I think the serve a lot this year, on clay especially, and he's going for some shots much more.

"He combines that with his great physical strength and then patience, and it's impressive on this surface.

"But I don't want to go out there in semis and just try my best. I don't want to do that.

"I want to win, and I think I have good quality and good chance."

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see also
Nadal v Almagro as it happened
03 Jun 08 |  Tennis


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