Defending champion Rafael Nadal played some of his best tennis to set up a much-awaited French Open showdown against Novak Djokovic with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 demolition of Wimbledon winner Andy Murray in the semi-finals on Friday.
World No. 1 Nadal, an eight-times Roland Garros winner, did not concede a single break point in a one-sided encounter on Court Philippe Chatrier, sinking the seventh seed with a series of forehand winners.
Murray, looking to become the first British male to reach the Paris final since tennis went professional in 1968, was never in the contest, making too many unforced errors on his usually reliable forehand.
Nadal wrapped up the victory on his first match point with a smash on the Scot’s serve.
“I think I played some of my best tennis at Roland Garros today,” Nadal said, after extending his French Open record to 65 victories and a single defeat.
“I’m very emotional to reach the final again,” he told reporters. “It’s a dream. Novak is an unbelievable opponent.”
World No. 2 Djokovic, who earlier beat 18th-seeded Latvian Ernests Gulbis 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the other semi-final, is one of three men who have beaten Nadal on his favored red dirt this year.
Nadal slammed 24 winners, most of them with his forehand, against a helpless Murray and converted all six break points he had.
“He played a great match. He missed hardly any balls. He served very well,” Murray said.
“His forehand, especially with the conditions the way they were today, was incredibly hard to control. As soon as he was inside the court he was hitting the ball so close to the line,” he added.
Nadal’s uncle and coach Toni agreed with Murray’s assessment.
“I think he played one of his best matches at Roland Garros,” Toni said.
In hot weather that favored the Spaniard’s topspin, Murray won only 10 points on his opponent’s serve.
Nadal raced into a 3-0 lead after breaking in the second game when his opponent put a forehand shot into the net.
Murray held for the remainder of the set, but could not trouble the Spaniard on his serve, and Nadal bagged it with a casual forehand volley.
In the third game of the second set, the man from Mallorca broke when Murray sent an easy forehand wide.
Nadal turned the screws in the seventh game, stealing Murray’s serve again as the world No. 8 made yet another unforced forehand error.
The top seed, who has an 88-1 record in five-set matches on clay, quickly put the Scot out of his misery in the final set to reach his fifth consecutive Roland Garros final.