PARIS (AP) – Rafael Nadal made quick work of Roger Federer in their first French Open meeting since 2011, beating his rival 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 Friday in strong wind to reach his 12th final at Roland Garros.
Nadal has never lost a semifinal at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament. Never lost a final, either.
And he’s never lost to Federer in Paris, improving to 6-0. Overall, Nadal leads their series 24-15. Federer had won their past five meetings, but those were all on hard courts.
It’s a whole different task to take on Nadal on clay, in general, and at the French Open, in particular, where his one victory away from a 12th championship, which would be more than any man or woman has won at any of the Grand Slam tournaments.
In Sunday’s final, the No. 2-seeded Nadal will play No. 1 Novak Djokovic or No. 4 Dominic Thiem. Their semifinal, played second Friday, was suspended for the day in the third set because of rain in the evening. Thiem was leading 6-2, 3-6, 3-1 when play was halted. About 45 minutes later, officials announced the match would resume Saturday. That means whoever wins would be competing for a fourth day in a row in the final against a well-rested Nadal.
This was the first time since 2011 the four top-seeded men were in the Roland Garros semifinals.
In the women’s semifinals earlier Friday, Ash Barty came back from a set and a break down to end 17-year-old American Amanda Anisimova’s breakthrough run with a topsy-turvy 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3 victory.
The No. 8-seeded Barty, a 23-year-old Australian who took nearly two years off from tennis to play cricket, will face another unseeded teen for the championship Saturday: 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic.
Vondrousova also reached her first major title match, eliminating No. 26 Johanna Konta of Britain 7-5, 7-6 (2). Vondrousova has not dropped a set in the tournament and can become the first teenager to win the French Open since Iva Majoli in 1997.