By Julien Pretot
Defending champion Rafa Nadal played his best tennis to set up a much awaited French Open showdown against Novak Djokovic with a 6-3 6-2 6-1 demolition of Wiimbledon champion Andy Murray in the semi-finals on Friday.
World number one Nadal, an eight-times Roland Garros winner, did not concede a single break point in a one-sided encounter on court Philippe Chatrier, hammering the British seventh seed with forehand winners.
Murray, looking to become the first British man since tennis turned professional in 1968 to reach the final in Paris, was never in the contest, making too many unforced errors on his usually reliable forehand.
Top seed Nadal wrapped it up on his first match point with a smash on Murray’s serve.
“I think I played one of my best tennis at Roland Garros today,” said Nadal, who extended his French Open record to 65-1.
“I’m very emotional to reach the final again here. It’s a dream. Novak is an unbelievable opponent.”
World number two Djokovic, who beat Latvian 18th seed Ernests Gulbis in the other semi-final, is one of three men who have beaten Nadal on his favoured red dirt this year.
Nadal hit 24 winners, most of them with his forehand, against a helpless Murray, and converted the six break points he had.
In hot weather which favoured Nadal’s top spin, Murray never had a chance and he won only 10 points on his opponent’s serve.
Nadal conceded three of them as he raced into a 3-0 lead after breaking in the second game when his opponent netted a forehand.
Murray held for the remainder of the set but could not trouble the Spaniard on his serve and Nadal bagged it with a casual forehand volley.
In the third game of the second set, the man from Mallorca broke when Murray sent an easy forehand wide.
Nadal turned the screw in the seventh game, stealing Murray’s serve again as the world number eight made yet another unforced forehand error.
He had already waved the white flag and Nadal, who has an 88-1 record in best-of-five set matches on clay, quickly put him out of his misery in the final set to reach his fifth consecutive Roland Garros final.