Saturday 20 January 2018

Nadal cruises past Wawrinka to set up Djokovic French Open final

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal will play Novak Djokovic in a blockbuster semi-final at the French Open after a crushing 6-2 6-3 6-1 win over Stanislas Wawrinka.

The seven-time champion had struggled through the first week, dropping sets to Daniel Brands and Martin Klizan, but it was a different player who took to Court Philippe Chatrier today.

 

Nadal had looked in much better nick against Kei Nishikori on Monday and he continued in the same vein, with the warm weather helping his heavily top-spinned shots fizz off the clay.

 

There was always the feeling it could be one match too many for Wawrinka, who has been struggling with a thigh problem and played for more than four hours in beating Richard Gasquet two days ago.

 

That was one of the best matches of the season, as was his agonising five-set defeat against Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, but things went wrong from the start today.

 

Wawrinka's tactic was to try to get this first strike in but he was misfiring off his forehand in particular and won only one of the first six games.

 

When the ninth seed missed a backhand to go set point down on his own serve, he smashed his racket with such ferocity that he almost broke the head clean off.

 

It did the trick as he nailed a backhand winner down the line to hold on, but Nadal quickly wrapped up the set and then broke again in the third game of the second set.

 

Wawrinka's radar was working a little better now and he levelled at 3-3 when Nadal pushed a forehand wide but that only fired up the Spaniard even more and he reeled off three straight games to take the set.

 

Wawrinka at least denied his opponent a love set by holding for 5-1 in the third, but it was only the briefest of delays for the champion, who can expect a much sterner test from Djokovic.

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