x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Nadal serves 'best' warning for French Open final

The Spaniard, who is bidding to become the first man to win seven titles at Roland Garros, said he played "one of my best matches on this court".

Rafael Nadal slipped during the third game of the second set against David Ferrer but still came up with a winner.
Rafael Nadal slipped during the third game of the second set against David Ferrer but still came up with a winner.

Rafael Nadal said his demolition of David Ferrer in the French Open semi-finals was one of the most complete matches he has played for some time.

The Spaniard, who is bidding to become the first man to win seven titles at Roland Garros, was only briefly troubled at the start of the match, saving two break points in the fourth game before accelerating away for a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 victory over the No 6 seed.

It was, he said, "one of my best matches on this court".

He added: "In my opinion I did almost everything right, because my serve worked very well, changing directions. My backhand was at its best so far. I hit the forehand well during all the tournament. Today wasn't an exception."

The win sees Nadal into his seventh final in eight years and once again he has done so without dropping a set.

His serve has been broken only once, in the second set of his first-round match with Simone Bolelli.

His opponent in the final will be the top seed Novak Djokovic who dismissed Roger Federer in three sets. Djokovic has never beaten Nadal at Roland Garros.

Nadal, 26, said he is not the same player who won his first French Open title in 2005.

"Maybe I've lost some of my energy," he said. "When I was younger I could rally longer, I think. Everything was a novelty for me. Today perhaps there is less novelty about it for me.

"But I think that in terms of my moves, I move better on clay. I don't feel as much electricity as I felt in the past, but I think that it's true to say that my tennis has improved.

"I'd like to change my style a little and be more aggressive, slightly more aggressive. But I've gone a notch up."

Proof of Nadal's dominance on clay is the fact that since winning his record-equalling sixth French Open title last year, he has lost just one match on the surface and that came against his compatriot Fernando Verdasco in Madrid where he took a dislike to the experimental blue surface.

Djokovic, however, defeated Nadal on clay twice in 2011.