The 11-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal is through to the 12th final in Paris in the last 15 years, toppling the great rival Roger Federer 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in two hours and 25 minutes. Fourteen years after the first semi-final clash at Roland Garros, Roger and Rafa were engaged in another battle for the final at clay Major, with the Spaniard having the upper hand from start to finish to deliver his 24th triumph over Federer in 39 encounters, the 14th in 16 clashes on the slowest surface and the tenth in 13 Grand Slam duels.
Losing the previous five tests against Roger and scoring no wins since the Australian Open 2014, Nadal was determined to finally outplay the Swiss and extend his dominance in Paris, earning the 92nd triumph from 94 matches at the beloved tournament!
Nadal is through to his 26th Grand Slam final, playing on a high level from start to finish to land 33 winners and 19 unforced errors, facing four break points and getting broken only twice. Roger needed much more than that to challenge the greatest clay courter in his first semi-final here since 2012, hitting 25 winners but also 34 errors that usually plague his chances over Rafa on clay.
The Spaniard converted six out of 16 break points to control the scoreboard, defending with amazing success and finding an empty court from tough positions to neutralize Roger's attacks and keep the Swiss on the baseline as much as possible.
The conditions were very tough and windy, especially in the first set where they both struggled to find the rhythm and impose their shots. Things improved from set number two and it was Nadal who took the upper hand from the closing stages, playing well on both serve and return to leave Roger far behind and advance into the second final in a row after conquering the title in Rome.
Opening a 3-0 lead, Rafa lost the advantage in the middle of the opening set before scoring another break at 3-2 when Roger's forehand found the net. The Spaniard completed the opener with a hold in game nine before Roger raised the level at the beginning of the second set to forge a 2-0 lead.
Wasting a game point in game three, Roger got broken after a forehand winner from Nadal who gained the momentum again, holding after deuce in game eight and never looking back. He broke Roger in the next game from 40-0 down, taking five points in a row and clinching the pivotal break with a volley winner that proved the be the crucial moment of the entire encounter.
Holding at love in game ten, Nadal moved two sets to love up after an hour and 45 minutes, determined to get the job done in the third set. Federer had nothing more left in the tank, unable to end Nadal's streak and to find the way to impose his strokes and change the course of the match.
Nadal broke him in games three and five, sealing the deal with a hold in game eight for yet another final in his kingdom where he will face Dominic Thiem or Novak Djokovic.