Rafael Nadal’s longtime dominance at Roland Garros continued Friday against his biggest rival, as the 11-time French Open champion bested Roger Federer in straight sets to advance to this year’s men’s final.
Virtually unmatched on clay courts, the No. 2-seeded Nadal started a bit slow in his anticipated showdown with the 20-time Grand Slam winner, hitting 10 unforced errors in the first set of Friday’s clash. But it was smooth sailing from there for the Spanish star, who remained undefeated in French Open semifinals by coasting to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory headlined by a handful of pinpoint shots.
The reigning champion was so accurate, in fact, that he frustrated the usually cool Federer to the point of the Swiss standout launching a ball into the stands. Prior to the match, Federer had not lost in straight sets at a grand slam in four years. He’d also won the last five meetings between his rivals, though Nadal has long had the upper hand on clay.
Nadal, who will advance to his 12th French Open final against either No. 1 Novak Djokovic or No. 4 Dominic Thiem, has now won all but two of his last 94 matches at Roland Garros, losing just 26 total sets in that span. A 17-time singles Grand Slam champion, he is 24-15 all-time vs. Federer, who was making his first French Open appearance in four years at age 37. Before taking on Federer, Nadal won easily over Japan’s Kei Nishikori, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.