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Nadal closes in on Grand immortality

Rafael Nadal taking his place in the French Open final tomorrow is not exactly shock news.

It has happened seven times before after all. But in 2013 it deserves the biggest headlines and the brightest lights after a semi-final which was bewildering in its ebb and flow, epic in its competitive nature and quite breathtaking in its final execution.

And when Nadal had finally dispatched world number one Novak Djokovic 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-7 (3/7) 9-7 after four hours and 37 minutes, history was in the making. Tennis tomorrow is now on the verge of seeing a man win the same Grand Slam eight times for the first time. Make no mistake, at the age of 27 that would be up there with any feat in any sport.

All the more so because Nadal's achievement comes just four months after he returned to the sport following a seven-month lay-off with a debilitating tendinitis injury which some suggested might even curtail his career. Statistics never tell the whole story and could not adequately express the spirit and resilience Nadal displayed on his favourite tennis court.

Admittedly, they are a dry way of illustrating the force of nature which is Nadal right now, but stick with these because they are among the most breathtaking in all of sport.

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Nadal has now won 42 matches and lost just two since his return to the tour in February after missing Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open.

The Spaniard has won 58 times out of 59 in his French Open career. Nadal leads the career rivalry with Djokovic 20-15, has a 13-3 edge on clay and has won all five of the pair's meetings in Paris, including the final last year.

In the final, Nadal will face compatriot David Ferrer, who reached his first grand slam final with a one-sided 6-1 7-6 (7/3) 6-2 win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.


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