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Nadal rolls into Rome final, set to face Federer

ESPN staff
May 18, 2013
Rafael Nadal did not follow Novak Djokovic through the exit door © AP

Rafael Nadal sealed his place in the final of the Rome Masters after the Spaniard defeated Tomas Berdych 6-2 6-4, and will take on Roger Federer in what promises to be an exciting end to the event.

After his comeback victory over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic on Friday, Berdych could not topple Nadal as the undisputed 'King of Clay' safely made it through to the final.

The six-time winner in Rome was tested against fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the quarter-finals when he battled to win in three sets. However, the French Open champion was too strong for Berdych and is into the final for the eighth time.

Nadal quickly settled into his stride as he clinched the break in the first game of the match with a forehand down the line. The world No. 5 then raced into a 5-1 lead after Berdych's play was littered with errors - rather like the first set against Djokovic.

Nadal took the set in just over 31 minutes and only dropped one point on his serve as Berdych was unable to make an impact.

Berdych would have to fight back from a set down once again if he was going to reach the final, and the Czech gave Nadal a contest in the second set, with both players holding serve early on.

Eight games elapsed and still with no break of serve, it was Nadal who seized the initiative in the ninth. Berdych was given no chance as the sixth seed was broken to love, and with it Nadal closed out a dominant victory to reach the final.

Federer reached the final after he defeated Benoit Paire 7-6(5) 6-4 and will resume his rivalry with Nadal on Sunday.

The record 17-time grand slam champion has never won the Rome Masters, with the Swiss twice losing in the final in 2003 and 2006, and will face Nadal in a repeat of the '06 final.

Federer missed his opportunity to break in the sixth game when Frenchman Paire saved all three points, and the unseeded semi-finalist went on to secure the break himself to move 4-3 in front.

However, Wimbledon champion Federer reclaimed the break immediately in the following game, and edged out his opponent in a tight tiebreak 7-5 when he was behind.

And the writing was on the wall for Paire in the second set as Federer maintained his break from the third game to set up an encounter with Nadal - who he has lost 19 times to - in the final.

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