Saturday, June 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Rafa: Nadal cruises, makes sixth French Open final

On his 25th birthday, Rafael Nadal advanced to his sixth French Open final, defeating Andy Murray 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 in their semifinal at Roland Garros.

Playing on a gimpy ankle, Murray was able to stay with Nadal for the first two hours of the match, even breaking him twice in the second set. Then Murray let his emotions take over. When he netted a tentative forehand, he yelled to his box "why are you scared of your forehand!" On the next point, a Nadal winner was met with a string of profanities from the top-ranked British player. It wasn't long before Nadal earned a crucial break and took control of the match.

Last week when Nadal had to come from behind to beat John Isner in a five-set first-round match, there were whispers that Nadal might be off his game and that his losses to Novak Djokovic on clay had messed with his head. He struggled in other early round matches (cough, sandbagging, cough) and then wondered aloud whether he had the talent to win the tournament.

That seems like a long time ago now after two dominating performances against the No. 4 and No. 5 (Robin Soderling) players in the world.

Nadal moves to his sixth French Open final, tying Bjorn Borg for the most ever. The Swedish great won each of those six finals. To join him, Nadal will have to beat the winner of the Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer semifinal, or, as Nadal puts it "the greatest player currently against the greatest player ever."

Kat Von D Ana Paula Lemes Vanessa Simmons Chyler Leigh Julie Berry

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