Nadal hopes dodgy knees hold up in final against Federer

By DPA, Gaea News Network
Sunday, May 17, 2009

MADRID - Roger Federer glided to a 6-3, 6-4 victory and a place in Sunday’s Madrid Masters final against physically spent nemesis Refael Nadal.

The Swiss second seed expended little effort in his one hour, 21 minute semi-final Saturday over Argentine Juan Del Potro.

By contrast, Nadal was pushed to the limit because of his dodgy knees before getting past Novak Djokovic in just over four hours, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (11-9). Spain’s number one saved three match points as he emerged from the tense, marathon semi-final.

Nadal has now won 33 straight matches on clay and stands 19-0 this season on the surface. He has notched repeat victories in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome, beating Djokovic in the two Masters-level events.

The 22-year-old, seeking an historic fifth straight at the French Open, is worried by his chronic knee problems, which required on-court help from the trainer.

‘I had problems in the first set and also in the second. It was difficult for me to play my 100 per cent,’ Nadal said.

‘I had trouble pushing off… (The knees) were not responding so well, but I got an anti-inflammatory and some hot creme (on court), and that helped. It’s tough, but I hope I can play normal.’

Federer has progressed smoothly this week as the 13-time Grand Slam champion makes a run at finally winning a French Open, the only major title missing from his collection.

Federer will have the fitness advantage going into the final against Nadal, who has dominated their recent meetings including titles at the French and Australian Opens and Wimbledon last summer.

Djokovic, fourth in the world with a chance to move back to third had he reached the final, was crushed by the might of Nadal.

‘I played one of my best matches ever. I was a couple of points from the victory. I even played a few points above my limits, and I still didn’t win,’ Djokovic said.

The Serb now stands 4-14 against the Spaniard.

‘This has happened too often,’ Djokovic said. ‘I gave my maximum today. I had match points and didn’t win. It’s frustrating. I just don’t know what to do to beat him. It’s very disappointing to play as well as I have and still lose the match.’

Nadal lost his first set of the week as Djokovic prevailed in the first but struggled to level after a second set lasting more than 90 minutes.

The glacial pace continued in the third, with Djokovic repeatedly taking massages and treatment on his knees and Nadal also seen by the trainer for a re-taping.

The drama lifted in the deciding final set before Nadal benefited from a final Djokovic error, his 43rd of a long contest, compared to 50 for the Spaniard.

Nadal stands 150-4 on clay since 2005 and has won 27 of 28 clay semi-finals. His lone defeat came in 2003 as a teenager in Umag, Croatia.

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