Nadal and Federer set for new classic
Reports of Roger Federer's demise were as wide of the mark Rafa Nadal's own prediction he was not playing...
Reports of Roger Federer's demise were as wide of the mark Rafa Nadal's own prediction he was not playing well enough to win a sixth Roland Garros title.
The two greats of the modern era meet in Sunday's French Open final in yet another grand slam showdown after crushing the new wave which Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray represented.
Paris is a place of traditions, from the pavement artists and street cafes to the age-old architecture and classic menus.
The Roland Garros fans were not going to give up on the chance of dining on another Nadal v Federer final and the way they roared Swiss Federer on in Friday's semi-final as Djokovic lost for the first time in 42 matches this year was testament to that.
"Obviously I've got my hands full with (Nadal) now," Federer, beaten in three Paris finals by the Spaniard, told reporters.
"Whoever thinks it's going to be a walk in the park is so wrong. Everybody knows how many times he's gotten me here in Paris."
Federer, who owns a record 16 grand slam titles including his solitary French triumph in 2009, has never much cared for clay and has easily succumbed to the world number one in all their clashes by the Bois de Boulogne.
But this is a different Federer, who has looked happier than ever on the red stuff over the last fortnight having not been in a grand slam final for over a year as Nadal took over the number one ranking and Djokovic threatened.
Despite Federer's upsurge in form, he faces a huge task in the final given Nadal has only ever lost one match in the men's singles at the French Open, losing to Robin Soderling in 2009.
The 25-year-old, who celebrated his birthday by beating Murray in the last four, endured his first five-set match at Roland Garros in the first round and laboured in his following matches before rediscovering his spark.
He reckoned halfway through the tournament that he was not playing well enough to win a sixth crown and equal Bjorn Borg's record in Paris.
Now his confidence has flowed back in droves and he is the same single-minded Nadal he has ever been.
"A lot of respect for the great Bjorn, but I am focussing on trying to play well," he said as he looks to cling to his top ranking.
"For me, it is much more important to win Roland Garros than equal Bjorn."