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Nadal to take on Federer in final

Nadal will face Federer in Sunday's Wimbledon final after his semi-final opponent Novak Djokovic retired injured.
AFP | By Angus MacKinnon, London
UPDATED ON JUL 08, 2007 02:19 AM IST

Rafael Nadal will face Roger Federer in Sunday's Wimbledon final after his semi-final opponent Novak Djokovic retired injured mid-way through their clash on Court One on Saturday.

Djokovic, who had been suffering with a sore back and required on-court treatment for a blister on his toe, decided he could not go on mid-way through the third set with Nadal leading 3-6, 6-1, 4-1.

After requiring treatment on his back during his two previous matches, Djokovic was not even sure on Saturday morning if he would be able to start the semi-final.

"It's disappointing but I have to look on the positive side," said Djokovic who spent 13 hours playing his previous three matches.

"I have had my best two weeks at Wimbledon and played the best tennis I have ever played."

The Serbian said that as well as the blister he also had an infection in his toe.

"I didn't sleep last night because there was bleeding and I could barely walk this morning. My back was also a problem, my body is tired and exhausted.

"I am sad but all of this will make me stronger. I decided to retire because I didn't want to make the injury worse."

Nadal, bidding to become the first Spaniard to win the men's singles title since Manuel Santana in 1966, praised Federer.

"He has all the shots and controls the speed of the ball," said the world number two.

"There are many things I have to improve on for Sunday, like my slice and volley. But I am just 21 years old. A lot of things have changed in the last year."

It was Nadal however who began Saturday's match sluggishly, dropping his opening service game to hand his opponent a 2-0 lead and Djokovic went on to wrap up the opening set in 37 minutes.

In the course of the second however it became clear that the Serb was in some discomfort and after being broken twice to concede the set, he called for the trainer to bandage a nasty-looking blister on the little toe of his left foot.

Djokovic attempted to play on but, after being broken in the third and fifth games of the set, decided to call a halt.

Minutes earlier Federer won through to his fifth straight final with a straight sets win over Richard Gasquet.

It was a heartbreaking way for the talented 20-year-old Djokovic's first semi-final at the All England Club to come to an end.

But it was not the first time that back problems have blighted his career -- a similar injury forced him to retire from his French Open quarter-final against Nadal last year.

Djokovic's cause was certainly not helped by the fact that he had been on court for four hours in his fourth round match against Lleyton Hewitt before slugging it out for almost five hours with Marcos Baghdatis in Friday's quarter final.

In contrast, Nadal will have been relieved to have been granted some unexpected extra recovery time ahead of Sunday's final.

The Spaniard has been on court every day since Monday and been involved in two five-setters on his way to the replay of last year's final.

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