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Nadal meets Djokovic in French Open semis

Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic will renew their rivalry when they meet on Friday in a much anticipated clash.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic. Picture: AFP

PARIS - No silverware will be at stake when Serbia's Novak Djokovic and Spaniard Rafa Nadal strut on to Philippe Chatrier court to face each other for the 35th time and whoever prevails will be favourite to lift the Musketeers' Cup on Sunday.

Friday will be the first time Djokovic and Nadal have met before the final of a tournament, other than the ATP World Tour finals round robin stage, since 2009.

In the last 11 meetings, five of which have been in grand slam finals, everything has been on the line.

The most remarkable of those battles was the 2012 Australian Open final where Djokovic and Nadal fought each other to a standstill before the Serb prevailed in a five hour 53 minute epic that took grand slam finals into unchartered territory.

Djokovic won seven successive victories over Nadal and it seemed he had cracked the hardest nut in tennis but since then the 27-year-old Mallorcan has responded with three wins from the last four and leads their overall series 19-15.

Nadal has been dominant again on clay since returning in February, winning five titles on the surface, albeit losing to Djokovic in the Monte Carlo final.

SHARAPOVA AWAITS IN FINAL

Maria Sharapova had better come armed with a bit more than the 12 aces she served to reach the final when facing her nemesis Serena Williams in the French Open showpiece on Saturday.

For the second match running Russian defending champion Sharapova produced a wildly fluctuating display on Thursday as she beat fierce rival Victoria Azarenka 6-1 2-6 6-4.

The Russian feebly dropped the opening game on serve to love with two double faults but responded to allow Azarenka only seven more points in the set.

Williams had been forced to wait as Sharapova and Azarenka finished their rain-interrupted two-hour scrap - then came out like a hungry tiger to maul hapless Italian Sara Errani 6-0 6-1.

On the day the WTA celebrated its 40th anniversary, top seed Williams made a mockery of Errani's world ranking of five as she underlined her unshakeable grip on the women's game.

Fifth seed Errani, a clay-court expert who was runner-up to Sharapova last year, pocketed only 16 points and was mercifully put out of her misery by the world No.1 after 46 minutes.

Williams won 40 of her 52 points with winners, incredible statistics, yet she seemed unimpressed.

It will certainly take a lot more than that to halt Williams in her tracks on Saturday.

Attention now turns to Friday's mouth-watering last-four clash between top seed Novak Djokovic and seven-times French Open champion Rafa Nadal in a rematch of last year's men's final won by the Spaniard.

The winner will play either Nadal's compatriot David Ferrer or local favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Sunday's final.