Nadal and Murray in semi-final showdown
Rejuvenated defending champion Rafael Nadal set-up a mouth-watering
French Open semi-final clash against British fourth seed Andy Murray on
Wednesday as both men clinched impressive straight sets wins.
Nadal, who will be 25 on Friday, the day of the semi-final, turned in
easily his most impressive performance of the tournament, demolishing
Robin Soderling 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (7/3).
It was the Spaniardís second successive French Open win over
Soderling after his victory in the 2010 final had avenged his stunning
fourth round defeat to the Swede the year before, still Nadalís only
loss in Paris against 43 wins Murray charged into the semi-finals for
the first time with a 7-6 (7/2), 7-5, 6-2 win over Argentinian veteran
Juan Ignacio Chela.
He is just the second British player to reach the last four in Paris
in the Open era (since 1968) after Tim Henman did so in 2004.
With Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic contesting the other
semi-final, it will be the first time since the 2006 French Open that
the top four seeds are into the last four in a Grand Slam event.
Despite being on the verge of losing his world number one spot to
Djokovic, who he could yet meet in Sundayís title match, Nadal shook off
the shackles which had restricted his performances in the earlier
Soderling, the 2009 and 2010 runner-up, was undone by 41 unforced
ďI played a very tough opponent. Iím happy Iím through to the semis,Ē
ďI was much better than in previous matches. I was more solid and
Robin made more mistakes than usual.Ē
Nadal was 3-0 up with a double break in the first set, the second of
which was created by a sweet backhand pass, picked off his toes.
Soderling clawed back one of the breaks but Nadal, mixing breathtaking
defence and accuracy from the back of court, got the best of a series of
gruelling, rallies to take the 49-minute opener.