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Nadal inexhaustible at French Open

Nadal soars at French Open while his compatriot David Ferrer ruined the French party.

Rafael Nadal of Spain returns the ball to his compatriot David Ferrer during their final Mexico ATP Open men's single tennis match, in Acapulco, Guerrero state on March 2, 2013. Picture: AFP / Yuri Cortez

PARIS - Deep down below the dusty red clay of Chatrier Court at Roland Garros lies a rich seam of mettle and inspiration that only Rafa Nadal seems able to bore into in times of trouble.

More often than not during his seven title runs at the French Open the insatiable Spaniard has not required it.

On Friday, however, he almost exhausted it completely before beating world number one Novak Djokovic 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-7(3) 9-7 in a semi-final epic lasting four hours and 37 minutes.

There was none of that precious raw material left for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga whose hopes of becoming the first French player to reach the men's singles final here since 1988 ended dismally in a 6-1 7-6 6-2 defeat by Nadal's compatriot David Ferrer.

Tsonga's trouncing of Roger Federer in the quarter-finals had fuelled French hopes but 31-year-old fourth seed Ferrer ground them into the dirt with a ruthless display to reach his first grand slam final after five semi-final defeats.

Ferrer has not lost a set on his way to becoming the oldest man to reach the French final since Andre Gomez in 1990, but faces a gargantuan task trying to stop Nadal becoming the first man to win a single grand slam title eight times.

Only once has Nadal been beaten at Roland Garros in nine years and he proved again on Friday that it will take a super-human effort to prise his hands off the Musketeers' Cup.

Trailing for much of a compelling, almost primal, fifth set, defeat was looming but Nadal dug deeper and deeper to pull away from the brink and claw his way to victory.

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