Rafael to fight Roger for title
Federer has the chance to avenge his shattering 2005 French Open loss to Nadal in Dubal Open final.india Updated: Mar 04, 2006 00:35 IST
World number one Roger Federer has the chance to avenge his shattering 2005 French Open loss to Rafael Nadal when he faces the world number two in a dream Dubal final on Saturday.
Federer secured his place in the title match with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Mikhail Youzhny of Russia while Nadal, still feeling his way back after a three-month injury absence, enjoyed an easy 6-4, 6-2 win over Rainer Schuttler of Germany.
Federer, who extended his Open era record winning streak on hard courts to 56, was beaten by the 19-year-old Spanish teenager en route to the French Open title in June and the two have not met since.
Nadal may find it tougher on hard courts than on clay but suggested he may be learning to cope better on the quicker stuff.
Although he still often plays deep from behind the baseline, Nadal counter-attacks more often, serves a few more aces and winners, and is increasingly willing to risk attacks at the net.
Nadal started fast on Friday, breaking serve in the first game, and although he played an indifferent game to allow the steady German to break back for 4-4, he remedied the loss at once, and served out for the set without alarms.
Schuttler once mocked a group of Spanish supporters who made noises as he was about to serve, by signalling to them to make more noise, and he dropped serve again at the start of the second set.
That launched Nadal on to a sequence of six games in a row, and a 4-0 second set lead which paved the way for victory.
"It will be a special match," said Nadal of Saturday's final.
"But after two tournaments and three months out I am just pleased to be in a final. Federer has not lost a match this year and he is a specialist in finals."
The Swiss star showed what a supreme exponent of the art of match play he is against the Russian Youzhny who has often beaten him in practice.
Whenever there was a hint of trouble on his serve, he found a change of gear, and during a rally he had the capacity suddenly to prepare a little earlier for a ball, to strike it a little more cleanly, and to produce an unexpectedly telling blow.
It was also Federer's best performance so far in the tournament, which is his first since winning the Australian Open more than a month ago, and increased the feeling that this will become the first title he has won four times.
"Mikhail had many chances early on, when he could have got a lead, but I got him back," said Federer, who was soon into a 3-0 lead despite being love-40 in both his first two service games.
"It's hard when you get a start like he did, to stay positive."
Would he feel pressure with a final against Nadal?
"It eats me up all night," Federer joked.
"No, really I try to handle it as much as I can. We have a good team, we are professional and it is paying off."
First Published: Mar 03, 2006 21:14 IST