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One day in Paris

india Updated: Jun 03, 2011 01:30 IST
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, the world's most accomplished players, serve up a French Open semi-final special on Friday with a series of records at stake.

Djokovic, on a staggering 43-match unbeaten run stretching back to the Davis Cup final in December, will depose Nadal as world number one with victory over 2009 Roland Garros champion and 16-time Grand Slam title winner Roger Federer.

Victory will also see him equal John McEnroe's 1984 mark of a 42-match winning start to a year.

But he faces a rejuvenated Federer, seeded outside the top two for the first time since Wimbledon in 2003, who has reached his sixth Roland Garros semi-final without dropping a set.

"A match between the greatest player ever and the greatest player of the moment," was how Nadal described the Federer-Djokovic clash.

Defending champion Nadal, who will turn 25 on Friday, is just two wins from equalling Bjorn Borg's record of six French Open titles.

He takes on fourth seeded Murray who can become the first British man since Bunny Austin in 1937 to reach the title match if he defeats Nadal for the first time on clay.

Second seed Djokovic trails Federer 13-9 in career meetings, but has won all of their three matches in 2011, including a straight-sets triumph over the great Swiss in the semi-finals of the Australian Open on his way to the title.

The Serb hasn't played since Sunday after scheduled quarter-final opponent Fabio Fognini pulled out of their scheduled clash with a leg injury.

But he insists that his unexpected break will not harm his chances against Federer.

"I'm happy with my game. I'm playing the best tennis of my life at the moment," said Djokovic.

Federer, without a Grand Slam title since the 2010 Australian Open, has cruised effortlessly through the tournament, enjoying the spotlight being trained brightly on Nadal and Djokovic.

"There's less at stake for me than for Novak," said Federer, the last man to beat the Serb at the World Tour finals in London in November last year.

"He's got a lot of things going on. I'd love to be in a Grand Slam final, because I haven't achieved it for a few Slams, but it's nothing major for me, as long as I keep playing well."

Nadal dropped 53 games on his way to the quarter-finals, the most he has conceded in his Roland Garros career.

But in taking his tournament record to 43 wins against one just defeat in beating Robin Soderling -- the man who caused that blemish in 2009 -- the Spaniard put on his best performance so far.