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Federer sets up dream final against Nadal

The world number one crushed Fernando Gonzalez on Saturday to set up a Monte Carlo Masters final against the defending champion.

india Updated: Apr 23, 2006 14:43 IST

World number one Roger Federer crushed Fernando Gonzalez 6-2 6-4 on Saturday to set up a Monte Carlo Masters final against defending champion Rafael Nadal.

Federer, who had never gone beyond the quarter-finals previously in the tournament, played close to perfection to move past Chilean baseliner Gonzalez.

Second ranked Nadal stepped up a gear after losing a tight first set to overpower Gaston Gaudio 5-7 6-1 6-1 in the other semi-final.

The battle between the last two winners of the French Open was close for only one set.

Spain's Nadal, who succeeded Argentine baseliner Gaudio as Roland Garros champion last year, fought back from a break down in that first set.

A combative Gaudio broke his opponent again in the 11th game to serve for the set, which the Argentine took after 78 minutes.

Nadal broke Gaudio in the fourth and again in the fifth game of the second set before wrapping it up.

The muscular Spaniard stayed on top in the decisive set courtesy of his trademark, aggressive baseline play.

"It was my toughest match this week," the 19-year-old Nadal said despite never appearing to be in trouble after the first set.

"He had beaten me three times on clay before and I knew it would not be easy."

Nadal has won 41 consecutive matches on clay, which puts him third on the all-time list behind Guillermo Vilas (53) and Bjorn Borg (46).

"Being in the final is a bit of a surprise for me," the Spaniard added.

"After only five tournaments, I'll be ranked third in the ATP Race. I can only be satisfied."

Nadal is the only player to beat Federer on the ATP circuit this year -- in the Dubai final last month -- but the Spaniard refused to take victory for granted despite enjoying a 3-1 advantage in their head-to-head meetings.

"He has only lost one match in 2006," said Nadal. "If he plays at his usual level, it's going to be tough. Playing five sets could be an advantage for me."

The Swiss said he was now gunning for a revenge.

"He is on a string of 41 wins on clay. I'll try to end his run," Federer said. "I'll try to beat him on his best surface after he beat me on hardcourt."