Rafa Nadal destroys Roger Federer to remain on course for 12th French Open title

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Rafael Nadal defeated his great rival Roger Federer to reach his 12th French Open final.

The match, a 39th meeting between the two men, was played in exceptionally windy conditions at Roland Garros but Federer was unable to blow the defending champion off course.

After two tight sets, Nadal turned the screw to win 6-3 6-4 6-2 and add another victory to the five previous ones he had over Federer on the Paris clay.

Federer insisted he was looking forward to the challenge having decided this year to return to a tournament he had not played since 2015.

The 37-year-old had turned the momentum of their rivalry around with five straight wins, all on hard courts, and had been in fine form this tournament, but this would quickly have felt awfully familiar.

Not that any of their previous encounters were in conditions quite like this. While the threatened rain held off, the wind sent the ball swirling off course off both men’s rackets and whipped the clay into their eyes.

The second set was central to Federer’s hopes. His tactic of drop-shotting into the wind was an effective one, and he broke serve to lead 2-0 only to lose serve himself straight away.

Nadal then broke his opponent from 40-0 in the ninth game before serving out for a two-sets-to-love lead.

Federer received a warning for ball abuse when he angrily smashed one into the crowd after being broken again in the third game of the third set, and from there the end was swift.

Nadal improved his record against the Swiss to 24 wins and 15 losses and will face either Novak Djokovic or Dominic Thiem as he chases an 18th grand-slam title.

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Anisimova stuns defending champion Halep to reach French Open semi-finals

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Seventeen-year-old Amanda Anisimova produced a stunning performance to defeat defending champion Simona Halep in the French Open quarter-finals.

Anisimova is the first player born in the 2000s to reach the last eight at a slam and she overcame her nerves to hit Halep off the court in a 6-2 6-4 victory.

Halep’s defeat means there is guaranteed to be a first-time slam champion come Saturday, with Britain’s Johanna Konta the only one of the remaining quartet who had ever reached a singles semi-final before.

If Anisimova can keep playing like this, there is no reason it cannot be her. She is the youngest semi-finalist at Roland Garros since Nicole Vaidisova in 2006 and is yet to drop a set.

The daughter of Russian immigrants to the United States, she has been a rising star for a number of years and made her grand slam breakthrough by reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open.

A prodigious ball-striker – particularly off her backhand side – and a fine mover, the 51st-ranked American raced through the first set, with Halep simply unable to find any answer.

Anisimova the surged into a 4-1 lead in the second set before the nerves kicked in and Halep fought back to level at 4-4.

Anisimova saved a break point to stop the rot and in the end it was Halep who was the more jittery player, serving a double fault to cough up a match point, which her opponent took with a backhand winner.

In the last four, Anisimova will take on another first-time grand slam semi-finalist in Australia’s Ashleigh Barty.

The eighth seed is more thought of as a threat on faster surfaces but she has been in superb form this season and has carried that onto the clay.

Barty was a 6-3 7-5 winner over 14th seed Madison Keys, taking her second opportunity to serve out the victory.

Provided by Press Association Sport 

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Roland Garros: Rafael Nadal drops a set before brushing aside David Goffin in Paris

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Rafael Nadal dropped a set at the French Open for only the second time since 2015 but recovered to beat David Goffin and reach the fourth round.

The 11-time champion had won all his matches in straight sets the last three years apart from in the quarter-finals 12 months ago, when he lost one set against Diego Schwartzman.

Nadal tore through the opening two sets against 27th seed Goffin but the Belgian fought back impressively to take the third before the Spaniard completed a 6-1 6-3 4-6 6-3 victory.

The win saw Nadal match Federer, who defeated Casper Ruud earlier, by making the last 16 here for the 14th time, an all-time record.

On the 10th anniversary of his most famous defeat, when he was beaten in the fourth round by Robin Soderling to lose on the Paris clay for the first time, Nadal seemed in a hurry to write a happier story on May 31.

He raced through the first five games, and Goffin, who had won his first two matches with impressive ease, struggled simply to get a foothold in the match.

But things changed in the third set as Goffin matched his opponent stride for stride before breaking serve for the first time in the match in the ninth game and serving it out.

It was the first set Goffin has managed to win against Nadal in four meetings on clay, and the earliest round in which the 32-year-old has lost a set here for six years.

But Goffin was unable to turn a set into a real challenge to Nadal, who wrapped up victory after two hours and 49 minutes.

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