The two legends of our sport, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, are now just two sets from a clash in the Rome Masters Sunday final. Before then, both have semifinal opponents to get through on this rainy afternoon in Italy.
Nadal, a six time champion with a 39-2 career mark at Rome, comes off back-to-back three set matches to face Tomas Berdych. Rafa has beaten the Czech in their last 12 meetings and 13 times out of 16. But Berdych overturned an 11-match losing streak yesterday to Novak Djokovic, so might he be primed for another streak stopper today?
Thus far Berdcyh has dropped just one set – Djokovic – and has been broken just four times en route to just his four Masters semifinal (1-2 record).
Rafa has reached the finals at all seven events he’s entered this year since his return in February. And he’s 21-0 in clay semifinal matches. He’s also won 16 of his last 17 matches against Top 10 players on his favorite dirt surface.
Federer continues his quest for a first career Rome title later against the eccentric shotmaker Benoit Paire. Federer hasn’t dropped a set all week though was pushed yesterday by the towering Jerzy Janowicz in the quarters. The Pole was unable to serve out the second set and Federer took the match in a breaker.
Federer hasn’t won a title on the year nor has he reached a final, so it’s a big opportunity today for the 31-year-old against the underdog Frenchman.
Federer and Paire have met twice before, both in the last eight months, with the Swiss winning each in very easy fashion. But Paire is playing his best tennis of late and he lost just one game yesterday to Marcel Granollers en route to his first Masters semifinal. He also collected his first career Top 10 win Thursday beating Juan Martin Del Potro. And by reaching this stage the 24-year-old has earned his first seeding a Slam at the French Open.
Federer and Nadal last met on the clay
last year in Madrid at the 2011 French Open. The two have a history in Rome also. They played one of the great matches of all-time in the 2006 Rome final won by Nadal in a fifth set tiebreaker after saving matchpoints.
Nadal leads Federer 19-10 in the rivalry and 12-2 on clay courts.
CENTRALE start 12:00 noon
 S Williams (USA) vs [Q] S Halep (ROU) – WTA
Not Before 2:00 PM
 V Azarenka (BLR) vs  S Errani (ITA) – WTA
Not Before 4:00 PM
 T Berdych (CZE) vs  R Nadal (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 8:00 PM
B Paire (FRA) vs  R Federer (SUI) – ATP
 B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs  M Mirnyi (BLR) / H Tecau (ROU) – ATP
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