Nadal reaches Rome Masters final
ROME RAFAEL Nadal dominated David Ferrer 7-6 (8/6), 6-0 on Saturday to power into a seventh Rome Masters final, beating his fellow Spaniard for the 12th consecutive time on clay.
Second-seeded Nadal will now face either world number one Novak Djokovic, the defending champion, or world number two Roger Federer in Sunday’s final.
Nadal, winner of the Foro Italico trophy in five of seven appearances in the Italian capital, also won a 39th straight claycourt semi-final and has not lost at the final-four stage on the surface since 2003.
Ferrer, a legendary scrambler on the dirt, was beaten by his countryman in Rome for the third time as Nadal polished his career record here to 35-2. He now stands 15-4 in the pair’s series.
Play progressed at a glacial pace on Saturday, with the first four games taking 33 minutes which was longer than Federer’s winning first set on Friday against Andreas Seppi.
The second game took up half of that time as Nadal fought off seven break points to finally hold for 2-1.
Ferrer double-faulted away a service game to trail 3-2 as his rival started to get a grip on the match.
Nadal won the 84-minute marathon in a tiebreaker and then began to sprint in the second set to take a 3-0 lead. Ferrer saved five break points in the fourth game before falling to defeat.
Spain’s 10-time Grand Slam champion will be competing in his 70th career ATP final on Sunday, defending a record of 48- 21.
He and Federer currently share the record for Masters titles won at 20 each.
Nadal has 15 wins on clay this season against one defeat, which came in Madrid against compatriot Fernando Verdasco last week.
Serena withdraws Russian defending champion Maria Sharapova beat Germany’s Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-4 to set up a Rome Masters final against Li Na of China.
Sharapova advanced in 89 minutes against Kerber, whose move into the WTA top-10 on Monday will complete a line-up for 10 different nationalities at the summit of the women’s game.
Li, who will defend her French Open title when the grand slam starts a week from Sunday, reached the title match at the Foro Italico without hitting a ball in her semi-final as opponent Serena Williams withdrew, claiming back pain but admitting the pullout was really just a precaution.
“When I was warming up this morning, I was really looking forward to playing against one of the best players ever,” said Li, who has not won a title since her triumph in Paris a year ago.
“Of course I’m happy to reach the final but I don’t like winning like that. I am so sorry for Serena and hope she gets healthy.” Sharapova earned revenge against 12th seed Kerber after losing to the German at the Paris Indoors in February after beating her only a few weeks earlier in the Australian Open third round.
The Russian world number two, whose Rome trophy was one of two she lifted in 2011, ended with 27 winners and 25 unforced errors, breaking four times.
Kerber managed only nine winners but did put her opponent under pressure in each set before finally losing.
Sharapova already owns a clay title in 2012 after winning Stuttgart last month in her debut appearance over number one and main rival Victoria Azarenka.
The Russian has advanced into the Sunday title match without losing a set against the only player outside the top-10 to defeat her this season (Paris).