Nadal sizes up Djokovic for French Open final

23:26, Jun 06 2014
Li Na
Li Na congratulates Kristina Mladenovic after the current Australian Open champion was ousted by the French youngster.
Lleyton Hewitt
Lleyton Hewitt reacts after losing a point during his first round loss to Argentine Carlos Berlocq at the French Open.
Facundo Bagnis
Argentina's Facundo Bagnis celebrates after defeating Frenchman Julien Benneteau in the first round.
Roland Garros
Court crew sweep water off the covers during a delay on day two at Roland Garros.
Roland Garros
The view of court one as Ivo Karlovic of Croatia plays Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray stretches for a backhand during his first round match against Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan.
Kristina Mladenovic
Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic serves during her victory over Li Na.
Stanislas Wawrinka
Stanislas Wawrinka picks out balls to serve during his first round loss at Roland Garros.
Dustin Brown of Germany returns a shot during his men's singles match against Marinko Matosevic of Australia on day three of the French Open.
Dustin Brown of Germany returns a shot during his men's singles match against Marinko Matosevic of Australia on day three of the French Open.
Sara Errani of Italy serves to Madison Keys of the U.S. during their women's singles match at the French Open.
Sara Errani of Italy serves to Madison Keys of the U.S. during their women's singles match at the French Open.
Ernsts Gulbis
Ernsts Gulbis focuses as he serves against Facundo Bagnis.
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova smashes a forehand shot against Tsvetana Pironkova in the third round.
Garbine Muguruza
Spain's Garbine Muguruza celebrates her upset victory over No 1 seed Serena Williams.
Jurgen Melzer
Austria's Jurgen Melzer stretches to hit a forehand against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrates his victory over Jurgen Melzer.
Roland Garros
Dark clouds hover over the Philippe Chatrier Court as Rafael Nadal plays Dominic Thiem.
Petra Kvitova
Fifth seed Petra Kvitova serves during her victory over Marina Erakovic.
Simona Halep
Romanian Simona Halep acknowledges the crowd after her victory over Heather Watson.
Ana Ivanovic
Ana Ivanovic adjusts her ponytail while playing Ukraine's Elina Svitolina.
Tsvetana Pironkova
Tsvetana Pironkova receives advice from a medical staffer during her loss to Maria Sharapova.
Roger Federer
Roger Federer stretches for a backhand during his four-set third-round victory over Russian Dmitry Tursunov.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic questions a line call during his four-setter against Croat Marin Cilic.
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova served up a 'double-bagel' to unseeded Argentine Paula Ormaechea.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga plays an overhead shot in the sunshine.
Roland Garros
Court crew drag out the covers as rain interrupts play during Maria Sharapova's match.
Pauline Parmentier
France's Pauline Parmentier rips a forehand during her tough three-set victory over Mona Barthel.
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova lost the first set 6-1, but responded to finish off Garbine Muguruza in three sets.
Eugenie Bouchard
Eugenie Bouchard plays a shot during her three sets quarterfinal victory.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic makes a forehand shot on the run against Milos Raonic.
Ernsts Gulbis
Ernsts Gulbis pumps his fist after defeating Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals.
Andrea Petkovic
Andrea Petkovic kisses her racquet after defeating Sara Errani in their French Open quarterfinal match.
Roland Garros
Spectators shelter under umbrellas as rain delayed the start of quarterfinals on Day 11.
Simona Halep
Simona Halep reacts after defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova to reach the semifinals.
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova plays a two-handed backhand on the run against Canada's Eugenie Bouchard.
Eugenie Bouchard
Eugenie Bouchard fell short of the final in a second straight grand slam.
Simona Halep
Simona Halep battled past Andrea Petkovic in two sets to face Maria Sharapova in the women's French Open final.
Andrea Petkovic
Andrea Petkovic missed a chance to capture the second set before losing in a tiebreak.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic overcame losing the third set to finish off Ernsts Gulbis in four sets to reach the French Open final.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic attempts to replace a letter on an advertising board after knocking it off with his racquet.
Ernsts Gulbis
Ernsts Gulbis in action during his men's semifinal against Novak Djokovic.
Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal has a shot at his ninth French Open crown against Novak Djokovic.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray was no match for Rafa Nadal in the French Open semifinals.
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova had to battle over three hours to overcome Simona Halep in the French Open final.
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova collapses to the clay after the championship-clinching point.
Simona Halep
Simona Halep reacts after taking the second set from Maria Sharapova in a tie-break.
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova with the Suzanne Lenglen Trophy after her second French Open triumph.
Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal has only been beaten once at the French Open in the last 10 years.
Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal with the French Open trophy at the Eiffel Tower.
Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal drops to his knees after winning his ninth French Open title.
Novak Djokovic
A frustrated Novak Djokovic could not overcome the 'King of Clay'.

Rafa Nadal will have to find a way of dealing with Novak Djokovic's pressure game if he is going to beat his great rival and win a ninth French Open title, the Spaniard says.

Premature predictions that now might be a good time to face Nadal on the Paris clay were emphatically swept aside as he crushed Wimbledon champion Andy Murray to win their semifinal 6-3 6-2 6-1 with an awe-inspiring display.

With quick-fire forehands, strong serves and accurate groundstrokes, Nadal did almost everything right to reach Sunday's showpiece where Serbia's world number two awaited.

Rafa Nadal
DEFENDING CHAMP: Rafa Nadal.

''I need to be able to manage the pressure because he puts a lot of pressure on me and I rush on my returns,'' Nadal said after beating Murray.

Ever the perfectionist, he knows he still has to fine-tune a few details before the final.

''I have started preparing quite well over the last few days. I have prepared quite a lot,'' said Nadal who did not concede a single break point against Murray.

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Novak Djokovic
HUNGRY ADVERSARY: Novak Djokovic.

''I need to improve my return a bit more. Today I managed to have my backhand a bit better than before. I need to be a bit more patient.''

Nadal, hoping to become the first man to win five consecutive French Open titles, showed signs of nerves in the early claycourt season, losing three matches on his favourite surface - a first in the run-up to Roland Garros.

Djokovic got the better of the Spaniard at the Rome Masters in May while compatriots Nicolas Almagro and David Ferrer also claimed surprise wins.

''I was playing with more nerves, more anxiety than usual ... it was a new feeling for me on clay - the fact that I was not able to find my real game,'' the Spaniard said of his form earlier in the claycourt swing.

Facing Nadal at Roland Garros, however, was an entirely different prospect, as Ferrer discovered when he was mauled 4-6 6-4 6-0 6-1 in the quarter-finals.

Double grand slam champion Murray fared even worse, prompting Nadal to admit his game was coming together at the perfect moment.

''I said the other day that I was practising better than a long time ago so that's the reason for today's result,'' said Nadal.

''Today I played as well as I practised. I think I played very well with my forehand. I think it was important to serve the way I served today.

''The first shot with my forehand starts to be very positive because I am able to take the advantage from the first shot. And then I am able to hit a few forehands in a row.''

Nadal's forehand is his comfort zone and Sunday's match could hinge on whether Djokovic allows him the time to tee it up.

''On my forehand everything is fine,'' he said.

''It's very fast, very powerful and I'm very happy.''

Reuters