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History has an odd way of settling old scores. Twelve months ago, Novak Djokovic walked into Roland Garros undefeated, invincible and on his way to rewriting the record books. His exceptional unbeaten season was brought to a commanding halt in the semi-finals when he ran into an inspired Roger Federer. Twelve months hence, the duo would stand on opposite sides of Court Philippe Chatrier once again, however, this time it was Novak who was dishing out the beating, powering his way past the legendary Swiss icon in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3. The match was not really even as close as the scoreline suggests with an excessive 46 unforced errors flowing from Federer's racquet to make Novak's job all the easier. As his reward, Djokovic earns a first ever date with Rafael Nadal on the final Sunday at the Spaniard's favourite playground, the French Open.
The first set started as a sparring match with the Swiss Maestro and the top seeded Serbian trading warning shots, feeling each out while holding their serves with relative ease till 2-2. The Swiss struck early to break Djokovicâ€™s serve in the 5th game with a heavy backhand and a corner forehand combination, but the former world no.1 couldnâ€™t consolidate the break as Djokovic immediately broke back to make it 3-3. The set continued to be interesting, but one felt that Djokovic had an extra gear on him which he could unleash when needed.Â·A flurry of errors by the 16 time Grand Slam champion when serving to stay in the set at 4-5, gave Novak the sneaky break at just the right time to nudge ahead in this contest.
The former World no. 1 switched gears at the start of the second set and shot away to a solid 3-0 lead with a double break to boot. But Alas! Novak Djokovic had other ideas, as he worked his way back into the set a step at a time. At 4-4, Federer threatened to pull away once again, breaking Djokovic for a third time in the set, only for the Serb to continue to have Roger's number, breaking him when he served for the set at 5-4.
The crowd at Philippe Chatrier were anticipating a tie-break, but the impeccable timing of a fourth break of serve gave Nole the set and a two sets to love lead. Some incredible rallies were played between the two, mostly dominated by Djokovic as the master class of old was missing in Federerâ€™s play as his attempts to finish off the rallies quickly, resulted in unwanted and unlikely errors.
In stark contrast to the second set, the third finally witnessed both players holding their respective serves, albeit only till the 5th game. In the 6th, the world no.1 started upping the ante which coupled with Federer reverting back to his 'shanky' play and mishits resulted in the Serbian grabbing the all-important break to effectively shut the door on any possibility of a comeback from the Swiss Maestro. The Serbian, meanwhile, continued to hold his serve with consummate ease thanks to some fine placement and Federer's continued struggles with his backhand. Novak closed out the match in the 9th game to book his place in the final of the French Open for the very first time, finishing off proceedings with a serve which the Swiss was unable to return.
In a fitting conclusion to the event, the top two players in world tennis will battle for the crown on Sunday. 6-time champion Rafael Nadal will head into that match as the overwhelming favourite, more so because of his complete destruction of a competent opponent in David Ferrer earlier today for the loss of just 5 games. Djokovic meanwhile looks the most likely player on tour to stop Nadal from capturing a record 7th title, and we should be in for another slobber-knocker after the duo's epic encounter in the Australian Open final earlier this year.
File Photograph Copyright: Porsche Tennis Grand Prix
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