Tag Archives: laver

Australian Open 2013: Serena Williams beats Maria Kirilenko to face Sloane Stephens

Williams cruises past Kirlenko to set up mouthwatering clash against the youngster billed as the next Serena

By
Rik Sharma

PUBLISHED:

10:42 GMT, 21 January 2013

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UPDATED:

11:51 GMT, 21 January 2013

Serena Williams was in fine fettle as she beat Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 6-0 to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals.

The American will face her compatriot Sloane Stephens who is competing in her first grand slam quarter-final after beating Bojana Jovanovski.

Serena landed close to 90 per cent of her first serves and knew herself how strong her performance was.

Flying: Serena Williams made light work of Maria Kirilenko at the Rod Laver

Flying: Serena Williams made light work of Maria Kirilenko at the Rod Laver

'I thought I played really well,' Williams told The Australian. 'I didn't expect to come out and play so well tonight.

'I
was like 'wow'. I saw I had like 95 per cent of first serves in the
first set and I thought: “Who is this girl” It's not me normally.'

Stephens
is the 'next big thing' in American tennis and the clash against Serena
will be intriguing. The 19-year-old beat Jovanovski 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 to
set up the clash against her childhood hero.

Less than 60 minutes: Kirilenko struggled at the hands of Serena

Less than 60 minutes: Kirilenko struggled at the hands of Serena

Although she doesn't like being compared to Serena, there are similarities between the two.

Both have powerful serves and like playing from the baseline, for instance.

They get along well off of the court too, often texting each other. 'We just keep it goofy,' Stephens said. 'She’s like the goofiest person I know.'

Serena said of Sloane: 'I think she's playing great. We played just two weeks ago in Brisbane, she played unbelievably well.

'I think she is an incredible talent and I admire her too. It will be a tough match for me but I feel like I have nothing to lose.'

Tale of the tape

SERENA WILLIAMS

SLOANE STEPHENS

Age

31

19

Weight

155lbs

135lbs

Height

5'9″

5'7″

Birthplace

Saginaw, MI, USA

Plantation, FL, USA

World seeding

3

25

Serena v Sloane

SERENA WILLIAMS

SLOANE STEPHENS

WTA Singles titles

47

0

WTA Doubles titles

22

0

ITF Circuits singles titles

0

1

ITF Doubles titles

0

1

Prize money

$41,960,896

$694,995

Won/Lost Singles

558-108

108-77

Won/Lost Doubles

166-21

29-32

Serena throws her towel in to the sky

Serena throws her towel in to the sky

Australian Open 2013: Svetlana Kuznetsova beats Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 2-6, 7-5

Former world No 1 Wozniacki crashes out as Kuznetsova finds her form to make the quarter-finals

PUBLISHED:

02:53 GMT, 21 January 2013

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UPDATED:

03:21 GMT, 21 January 2013

A resurgent Svetlana Kuznetsova stunned former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki in an absorbing encounter on Rod Laver Arena to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open with a 6-2 2-6 7-5 victory on Monday.

The former U.S. and French Open champion, unseeded this year after an injury-disrupted 2012, prevailed in a highly competitive 75-minute third set and wrapped up her victory with a backhand volley at the net.

Shock: Svetlana Kuznetsova got the better of former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki

Shock: Svetlana Kuznetsova got the better of former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki

Kuznetsova saw her streak of 40
straight Grand Slam appearances broken last year when a right knee
injury forced her out of the U.S. Open.

The 27-year-old Russian made 41
unforced errors but 52 winners were enough to claim a place in the last
eight for the third time in 12 appearances at Melbourne Park.

Getting to the ball: Wozniacki gets her backhand over the net

Getting to the ball: Wozniacki gets her backhand over the net

Fast start: Svetlana Kuznetsova dominated the first set

Fast start: Svetlana Kuznetsova dominated the first set

The former world No 2 will play the
winner of the next match on Rod Laver Arena between defending champion
Victoria Azarenka and Elena Vesnina.

Heather Watson beaten by Agnieszka Radwanska in Australian Open 6-3, 6-1

End of the road for brave Heather: Fourth seed Radwanska outclasses Watson in third

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

01:58 GMT, 18 January 2013

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UPDATED:

03:08 GMT, 18 January 2013

There was to be no repetition of the Wimbledon wipeout suffered against the same player in the same round, but Heather Watson could not save herself from bowing out of the Australian Open third round.

Despite a much-improved performance compared to SW19 in June – reflecting the improvements she has made in her game – Watson was beaten 6-3, 6-1 in 84 minutes by fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska.

It was a somewhat harsh scoreline and the British number one could have doubled her tally of games with a little more composure at the right time, but the Pole was always good value for her victory.

Over and out: Heather Watson was beaten in the third round by Agnieszka Radwanska

Over and out: Heather Watson was beaten in the third round by Agnieszka Radwanska

Consolation for Watson is that from her ranking of 50 she will go into the low forties, and has made a decent start towards her season’s goal of getting into the mid twenties. She and Laura Robson, the first two British players in the third round of a Grand Slam since 1991, have shown they belong in the top half century of players.

Barely ten hours after Robson had epically upset former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova on the Rod Laver Arena, they were across Melbourne Park on the Hisense Arena, the venue’s secondary stadium.

It was mid morning rather than past midnight and the weather was also very different, the famously changeable Melbourne climate swapping desert heat for much more overcast, cooler and windier conditions.

Winning feeling: Agnieszka Radwanska won in straight sets against Watson

Winning feeling: Agnieszka Radwanska won in straight sets against Watson

Priority One for Watson was to avoid the slow starts she had in the first two rounds, and the first set blowout she had against the Pole in Wimbledon’s third round, when she went down 6-0 in 24 minutes before losing the second 6-2.

Watson has said that the Wimbledon result ‘killed me’, and she might not be much more pleased with the numerical outcome of this, although it was definitely a better performance and one in which her more cautious sense of adventure was not always rewarded with good fortune.

She came out much quicker this time and started the better of the two, forcing two break points, missing the second with a forehand against a player you simply cannot afford to give second chances to.

Starting well: Watson did well at the start of the first set

Starting well: Watson did well at the start of the first set

Making the shot: Watson gets the ball over the net

Radwanska is an antidote to the biff bash school of women’s tennis that predominates, and sometimes gets mentioned in the same breath as Martina Hingis. She cleverly constructs rallies and opens up the court intelligently, relying on guile more than brute force.

At Wimbledon Watson attacked, headless-chicken style, but this time she was more prudent and sought to get to the net when she could, but the beaten SW19 finalist was always a little too solid.

Heather Watson

Agnieszka Radwanska

Mixed emotions: Radwanska celebrates her win as Watson looks dejected

After the disappointment of the fourth game Radwanska broke for 3-2, and then more decisively for 5-2, when the 20 year-old Channel Islander served a double fault and failed to get a point. Breaks were then traded for the set to be taken in 36 minutes.

The second was more processional, at least until a drizzle break caused the roof to be closed at 3-0. Watson paid at times for her overheads not being more punishing, and her opponent scrambled every lost cause admirably. There was a consolation game at 5-0 and should have been another after that.

Time for treatment: Radwanska gets medical attention during a break in her win over Watson

Time for treatment: Radwanska gets medical attention during a break in her win over Watson

Watson could have served better, managing only 51 per cent of first deliveries in and knows she has to continue working on that aspect. But she has shown more strong resolve in this tournament to pluck two wins out of the fire, and can progress further from here.

All over: Radwanska is congratulated by Watson

All over: Radwanska is congratulated by Watson

Australian Open 2013: Victoria Azarenka wins first round

Azarenka not firing on all cylinders but world No 1 battles through opening test

By
Jon Fisher, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

04:01 GMT, 15 January 2013

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UPDATED:

04:37 GMT, 15 January 2013

Top seed Victoria Azarenka survived a second-set scare to see off Monica Niculescu in the first round of the Australian Open.

Having cruised through the opener Azarenka's game inexplicably came off the rails in the second before she reasserted her superiority to win 6-1 6-4.

It seemed plain sailing for the defending champion on Rod Laver Arena as she raced into a 4-0 lead, seemingly at ease with her own game and that of her opponent, whose quirky sliced forehand marks her out from the rest of the crowd in the women's game.

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka

Defending champion: Victoria Azarenka survived a wobble in the second set to beat Monica Niculescu

A minor blip saw Niculescu break back but the Belarusian simply raised her level once again to take the first set in 31 minutes.

There appeared little chance of a Niculescu comeback but the Romanian surprised everyone inside Rod Laver Arena by swiftly establishing a 3-0 advantage. It almost became 4-0 but Azarenka clung grimly on to her serve by staving off two break points.

It proved a turning point as the world No 1, roared on by close friend Redfoo from the band LMFAO, hit back.

Watching brief: Stefan 'Redfoo' Gordy of LMFAO watches Azarenka and Niculescu in Melbourne

Watching brief: Stefan 'Redfoo' Gordy of LMFAO watches Azarenka and Niculescu in Melbourne

She drew level at 3-3, prompting a frustrated Niculescu to crack her racket into the court – an act which earned her a warning from the chair umpire.

Azarenka then broke again for 5-4 as Niculescu's challenge waned and she served it out to advance.

It was her first appearance on RLA since her thrashing of Maria Sharapova in last year's final and Azarenka admitted she was pleased to have avoided an embarrassing return.

Game over: In the end,, world No 1 Azarenka had too much in her locker for Niculescu

Game over: In the end,, world No 1 Azarenka had too much in her locker for Niculescu

Monica Niculescu

'It's great to be back, there were a lot of overwhelming emotions out there,' she said.

'I started really well but the second set was a struggle. I am pleased to get through.'

Azarenka had to pull out of the warm-up event in Brisbane due to an infected toe but she insists the injury is now behind her.

She added: 'I am running without pain and am just trying to focus on the next two weeks.'

Australian Open 2013: Andy Murray beats Robin Haase

Murray ignites grand slam challenge with straight-sets victory over hapless Haase

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

01:50 GMT, 15 January 2013

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UPDATED:

02:41 GMT, 15 January 2013

Andy Murray had the privilege of walking out onto the Rod Laver Arena to begin the second day of the Australian Open as a Grand Slam champion, and turned in a performance worthy of one.

Freshly minted as US Open winner, the 25 year-old Scot was utterly commanding as he dismissed Dutchman Robin Haase 6-3 6-1 6-3 in just an hour and 37 minutes, being over and done with before the stadium had a chance to fill up before lunchtime.

Murray’s next opponent is Joao Sousa, the world No 100, who beat Australian wildcard John-Patrick Smith 6-4, 6-1, 6-4.

Game, set, match: Andy Murray cruised through to the second round with victory over Robin Hasse

Game, set, match: Andy Murray cruised through to the second round with victory over Robin Hasse

The contrast to their US open second round of 2011 could hardly have been greater, and is a measure of how far Murray has progressed since then. On that day in New York he fell two sets behind, was totally at odds with himself and also allowed Haase a last-ditch comeback when he had gone ahead in the fifth set after seeming to recover.

This was one-way traffic by comparison, the only time the Dutchman looking comfortable being the first two games when he held easily and then tested the Murray serve.

A glorious morning with tepratures of 26C and a half-empty arena greeted the players for this relatively early start. Murray has been acquainted with Haase since junior days and knows him to be a fluent shotmaker whose skills have not always been matched by his mental strength.

Easy does it: Murray was always in control as he races to a straight-sets victory

Easy does it: Murray was always in control as he races to a straight-sets victory

After the initial hump had been overcome the world No 3 settled into his rhythm, razor sharp on his returns and enjoying a pleasing consistency on his first serve, with the percentage success rate always up around the 75 per cent mark.

His ease of movement showed that there were no nerves and soon he was reeling off successive service breaks to put himself in total command. The second set was the most straightforward of all, over in 26 minutes, with the third taking only half an hour.

Murray was broken in the third at 4-1 up when it looked like he was going to completely steamroller his way home, but the result was never in doubt, which has not always been the case when he has started at a major, sometimes nervous of the expectations placed upon him.

Support group: Murray's girlfriend Kim Sears (above) and his fan club (below) were in attendance

Support group: Murray's girlfriend Kim Sears (above) and his fan club (below) were in attendance

Supporters of Britain's Andy Murray

If there was a slight glitch it was the fact that Murray had his serve broken twice, despite him ending the match with a 73 per cent first serve success rate, but that would be nitpicking and it was to his credit that the whole match was something of a non-event.

Laura Robson and Jamie Baker are due to play later in the day’s singles, but this was a promising start that suggests that he is in good shape for the more strenuous tests to come.

It was the sort of imperious beginning you are more used to seeing from the likes of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, which is about the highest praise that can be given.

Murray said: 'It’s a good start and it’s nice to win in straight sets.It’s the hottest day we have had here for a while. It makes the court quicker and it took a little while to get used to it.'

Cooling off: Murray barely broke sweat as he began his Australian Open challenge in style

Cooling off: Murray barely broke sweat as he began his Australian Open challenge in style

Australian Open 2013: Maria Sharapova wins first round

Sharapova begins Melbourne campaign with double-bagel win over compatriot Puchkova

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

01:41 GMT, 14 January 2013

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UPDATED:

04:03 GMT, 14 January 2013

Maria Sharapova dispelled any uncertainty over her fitness with a ruthless demolition of Olga Puchkova at the Australian Open today.

The Russian was forced to pull out of the warm-up event in Brisbane after suffering a collarbone injury shortly before Christmas.

But in her first competitive match of 2013 she showed no signs of rustiness by brushing aside her Russian countrywoman 6-0 6-0 in just 55 minutes.

Signed, sealed, delivered: Maria Sharapova eased through to the second round in Melbourne

Signed, sealed, delivered: Maria Sharapova eased through to the second round in Melbourne

Sealed with a kiss: Maria Sharapova cruised to victory against Olga Puchkova

Sharapova's dominance was only threatened in the early stages when Puchkova, ranked 107 in the world, held two break points in the opening game but the second seed gave an early demonstration of her physical state with two booming aces to avert the danger.

From there on in it was a procession as the first match of the tournament on the main show court – Rod Laver Arena – ended in a disappointing no-contest.

Sharapova reached the final last year before being crushed by world No 1 Victoria Azarenka and she is hoping to go one better this year and repeat her Melbourne triumph of 2008.

She said: 'After a couple of close games I started to concentrate a bit better.

Sealed with a kiss: Sharapova had too much in her locker as she crushed compatriot Olga Puchkova (below)

Sealed with a kiss: Sharapova had too much in her locker as she crushed compatriot Olga Puchkova (below)

Plenty to ponder: Puchkova was hopelessly outclassed by Sharapova

'I didn't want to focus on the fact I hadn't played a lot of matches but just focus on what was ahead of me and really be aggressive.

'Today was a good scoreline.'

Although she didn't drop a game, Sharapova insisted there was still room for improvement.

'It's tough to feel completely satisfied,' she said.

'You always want to improve on things and work on certain things that you feel will help you in the later rounds towards the end of the second week.

'But overall I was happy with the way I started considering I didn't play any matches coming in.'

Wimbledon 2012: Andy Murray and Marin Cilic frustrated by rain

Murray under a cloud: As big guns rest up Andy could be Court out again

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UPDATED:

23:35 GMT, 2 July 2012

Predictably, the best place to be on Monday was on Centre Court, preferably under the roof, and the best place to be on Tuesday is safely through to the quarter-finals and resting up, as is the situation for Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

Most other people will have to take their chance with the weather, including Andy Murray, who now faces a minimum of four days’ play out of six if he is to achieve his Wimbledon dream.

At least he has been able to make a start on the job, progressing to 7-5, 3-1 and 40-0 against Croat Marin Cilic before this country’s apology for a summer put an early end to proceedings shortly after 4pm.

On top: Andy Murray was leading when his match with Marin Cilic was called off

On top: Andy Murray was leading when his match with Marin Cilic was called off

This afternoon he would like to enjoy the comfort of his prospective opponent in the next round — either David Ferrer or Juan Martin del Potro — who know they are guaranteed a result as they play under the roof at midday.

The Spaniard and Argentine were displeased at being called off early last night and made their feelings known to ATP officials before packing up and trudging home, but at least they appear to have achieved something by making their feelings known.

As for Murray, he might wish he was afforded the same treatment as Lleyton Hewitt at the Australian Open, who has not been off the main Rod Laver Arena since before 2001, a total of 37 consecutive matches.

The British No 1 will have to pick up where he left off after the 69 minutes that were possible against the 6ft 6in Croat, who will have been grateful for the respite after struggling on Monday.

Another go: Cilic and Murray will be first out on No 1 court

Another go: Cilic and Murray will be first out on No 1 court

We all know you need a few breaks to win a first Grand Slam and the 25-year-old will hope they come in the form of sufficient breaks in the cloud to allow him time to finish the job and set himself up for tomorrow’s task, which would surely see him restored to Wimbledon’s main arena.

It was unusual that last week Murray was not given his obligatory one appearance out on Court No 1 — which is a fair enough principle — and that could prove injurious to his title hopes in the event of major downpours in the next 24 hours.

On the evidence of yesterday, Cilic is there for the taking but a difference today could be that he will have shaken off more of the lingering stiffness from his Saturday marathon against Sam Querrey.

Going into a second day: Murray will hope to get the game wrapped up early on Tuesday

Going into a second day: Murray will hope to get the game wrapped up early on Tuesday

What Murray has to avoid is a repeat of the first two games when he was uptight and vulnerable to the flourishes of the 16th seed, whose forehand veers from being a deadly weapon to a scattergun.

The tell-tale sign of Murray’s discomfort — one we have barely seen to date in this tournament — was him clutching at his left hip twice after making a mistake, the reflex action that gives away to everyone, including his opponent, that he is not moving how he would like to.

Watching on: Murray's girlfriend Kim Sears watches on

Watching on: Murray's girlfriend Kim Sears watches on

Cilic is dangerous and arrived here having won at Queen’s Club. It is a small detail that he received the assistance of David Nalbandian’s near assault on a linesman in the final to lift the trophy — just to get there shows that he knows his way around a grass court. Luckily he gifted a break straight back with a series of sloppy errors, and that fortified Murray, although there was a close call at 4-4 when he created a break point, only for Murray to save it with an ace.

Sitting in the rain: Spectators shelter from the rain under umbrellas on 'Murray Mount'

Sitting in the rain: Spectators shelter from the rain under umbrellas on 'Murray Mount'

Slowly Murray, happy to assume his counter-punching role, sucked Cilic into his web and displayed his brilliant defensive capabilities by retrieving his opponent’s drives from deep behind the baseline.

At 6-5 up he broke to love to clinch the set, benefiting from a wide forehand on the last point and planting in Cilic’s mind the memory of his five defeats out of six against the world No 4. Murray broke again to go 3-1 up in the second set and there looked only one winner until the skies, threatening all day, started to weep.

The forecast had been worse so it was a case of being grateful for small mercies.

Among it all there are some good signs for the Scot here. Coach Ivan Lendl’s work on his serve looks to be paying a dividend, with him winning 56 per cent of points on his second delivery and landing his first one in two thirds of the time.

All this and more will be needed if he is to wade his way through what looks like some heavy going in the second week.

Wimbledon 2012 Novak Djokovic will gatecrash Britain"s summer party says John Lloyd

John Lloyd: Djokovic will gatecrash Britain's summer party by winning Wimbledon

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UPDATED:

20:45 GMT, 23 June 2012

After a lifetime in the game, I believe Andy Murray is the greatest player in history never to have won a major championship. It is not how Murray will want to be remembered, of course. And over the next fortnight, he will again put himself in a position to win Wimbledon, the tournament that I’ve always thought is his best chance for success.

His early defeat at the pre-Wimbledon event at Queen’s Club will not handicap him.

He finds it easier than most to transform his game for grass. Who is going to beat him over five sets in the first two rounds at Wimbledon Nobody. So, Murray will be up and running at the tournament where he has been a semi-finalist for the last three summers.

Tough stretch: Andy Murray is the best player to not win a grand slam

Tough stretch: Andy Murray is the best player to not win a grand slam

Murray’s misfortune is that he is playing at a time when the game is blessed with three great champions, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. I played when Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe brought tennis to a new, wider audience. Tennis became box-office — it was a special era, one I never thought could be bettered.

While it is an imprecise science to compare one era of the game with another — the courts, rackets and tennis balls have all evolved — I now think Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have raised standards to an unimaginable level. They may not bring the bedlam and controversy of Connors and McEnroe, or the brooding brilliance of Borg, but the sustained quality and power of Nadal and Djokovic, and the princely presence of Federer, have entertained and alerted us to possibilities on a tennis court never seen before.

Djokovic’s dream of holding all four major titles at the same time, a feat last achieved by Rod Laver 43 years ago, failed only because Nadal produced another masterclass of claycourt tennis at Roland Garros. After losing against Djokovic at Wimbledon 12 months ago, in New York in the autumn and in Melbourne earlier this year, Nadal was playing for his sanity in Paris. If he had not won a record seventh French Open, the psychological damage might have destroyed him.

World class: Novak Djokovic was beaten by Rafa Nadal in Paris

World class: Novak Djokovic was beaten by Rafa Nadal in Paris

Against men of such fierce mental strength, Murray has so far floundered. He reacted to this by hiring Ivan Lendl at the start of this year. Lendl has to keep Murray focused so that he doesn’t become involved in unnecessarily long matches in the early rounds. He will need all his powers for the second week of Wimbledon.

Since Lendl arrived, Murray’s body language has improved. But he still managed to invite criticism at the French Open for hobbling around holding his back in a match against Jarkko Nieminen, although there was no doubt the Briton was injured. Yet at times he was like a footballer rolling over on the ground after the slightest tap. Then, the next moment, he’d race across court like a greyhound.

Does it look good No. Murray’s antics similarly upset another opponent, Richard Gasquet. He was booed by the French. But Murray doesn’t care what people think — and if he’s not breaking the rules, it’s up to his rivals to take advantage of any problems he has. His job is to take care of business on his side of the court, and he seems to be doing that better than ever. Only Federer’s demeanour escapes criticism. Nadal and Djokovic are slow between points and this will not change until the rules are applied more rigidly.

Elegant: Roger Federer

Elegant: Roger Federer

Murray is seeded No 4 at Wimbledon but he’s the most likely to benefit if Nadal or Djokovic fall below their best, not Federer. Wimbledon still offers the Swiss his best opportunity for a 17th Grand Slam as he moves so well on the grass and has lifted six titles on the Centre Court. But he has not won a major since the Australian Open in January 2010 and you have to wonder how long he will go on if he comes up empty this year.

He’ll be 31 in August and his twin daughters are growing up. But Roger still gives the impression he just loves the game — just as my old mate Connors did.

In the summer of the Jubilee and the London Olympics, wouldn’t it be apt for Murray to be crowned champion Unfortunately for British fans, I think that honour will go to Djokovic.

French Open final 2012: Rafael Nadal beats Novak Djokovic

Seventh heaven! Nadal secures record French Open title with triumph over Djokovic

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UPDATED:

12:46 GMT, 11 June 2012

Rafael Nadal became the first man ever to win seven French Open titles as he defeated Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5, in their rain-delayed final at Roland Garros.

The Spaniard, who has now surpassed Bjorn Borg, had trailed 2-1 in the fourth set when they resumed following Sunday night's suspension but he immediately retrieved the break and clinched victory when Djokovic double-faulted.

The world No 1 had been bidding to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four grand slam trophies at once following three successive victories over Nadal, but this time the king of clay turned the tables.

Pure delight: Rafael Nadal has won a record seventh French Open title with victory over Novak Djokovic

Pure delight: Rafael Nadal has won a record seventh French Open title with victory over Novak Djokovic

Pure delight: Rafael Nadal has won a record seventh French Open title with victory over Novak Djokovic

Pure delight: Rafael Nadal has won a record seventh French Open title with victory over Novak Djokovic

Sunday's first part had certainly not been short on drama, whether it was the fluctuating fortunes of both men or the weather itself.

It had rained for almost the whole three hours, and the wet and heavy conditions affected Nadal both physically and mentally during the third and fourth sets.

The Spaniard was getting increasingly irate as they continued to play, the balls so wet and laden with clay that he could not impart his vicious spin.

King of clay: Nadal is the most successful player ever at Roland Garros

King of clay: Nadal is the most successful player ever at Roland Garros

No response: Djokovic rallied before the weather enforced overnight break

No response: Djokovic rallied before the weather enforced overnight break

From two sets and a break up, he lost eight games in a row before composing himself to win the final game last night, which looked very important when he promptly broke in the first game today to level the fourth set at 2-2.

The slow but dry conditions were perfect for the Spaniard, although he got a huge slice of luck with a net cord on break point that left Djokovic helpless at the net as the ball whizzed past him.

With Nadal leading 4-3, the rain resumed, although it was light, and the Spaniard's feelings were obvious when he sprinted from his chair before the umpire had called for play to restart.

Djokovic looked briefly perturbed but, as has done so often over the last 18 months, he steeled himself to find a way through the game.

Heavens above: Djokovic was the most affected by the weather and subsequent stoppages

Heavens above: Djokovic was the most affected by the weather and subsequent stoppages

... but Nadal had his problems too and questioned some of the decisions being made in the chair

… but Nadal had his problems too and questioned some of the decisions being made in the chair

He could not threaten on Nadal's serve, though, and the second seed moved to within one game of victory with a love hold.

Suddenly the rain was falling much harder, bringing tournament referee Stefan Fransson onto court, but the players stayed on in their seats while the worst of it fell and then resumed after a brief delay.

Djokovic withstood the first challenge as he served to stay in the match, but at 5-6 Nadal sensed blood and he brought up a first match point with a thundering forehand.

The Serb's resistance crumbled and he ended the match on a double fault, with Nadal sinking to his knees on the clay as he savoured a moment of history.

Putting on a show: The two best players on the planet produced a match worthy of a showpiece

Putting on a show: The two best players on the planet produced a match worthy of a showpiece

Putting on a show: The two best players on the planet produced a match worthy of a showpiece

Nadal climbed into the stands to embrace his support team before taking his customary bite of the Coupe des Mousquetaires.

The Spaniard, who has moved level with Borg and Rod Laver on 11 grand slam titles, said of overtaking the great Swede: 'It's an honour but the most important thing is this tournament. It's unforgettable, one of the most special moments in my career.'

Djokovic joined Roger Federer, who twice saw his hopes of holding all four trophies ended by Nadal in Roland Garros finals, but the Serb had no complaints with the result.

He said: 'I feel really privileged to be in this position, being in the final at Roland Garros for the first time. I enjoyed the match, Rafa was the better player. I hope to come back next year and play even better.'

French Open 2012: Novak Djokovic beats Roger Federer to reach final against Rafael Nadal

Djokovic sets up historic French Open final with Nadal after straight sets victory over Federer

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UPDATED:

17:57 GMT, 8 June 2012

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will face each other in a record fourth straight grand slam final after the world number one gained revenge for last year's semi-final defeat by Roger Federer with a 6-4 7-5 6-3 victory at Roland Garros.

Never before have the same two men contested all the major finals in succession, but it would have been a surprise if it was any other way, although Federer certainly had his chances in a wind-affected match.

More history will be on the line on Sunday, with Nadal, who thrashed David Ferrer 6-2 6-2 6-1, going for a record seventh French Open title while Djokovic is bidding to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four titles at once.

Big winner: Djokovic celebrates his straight sets victory over Federer at Roland Garros

Big winner: Djokovic celebrates his straight sets victory over Federer at Roland Garros

Djokovic
and Federer faced off in a classic semi-final last year, which the
Swiss player won to leave his rival one short of tying John McEnroe's
record start to a season of 42 straight victories.

Neither
player came into the match playing at anything like the same level –
Djokovic surviving two five-setters against Andreas Seppi and
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his last two matches and Federer fighting back
from two sets down to defeat Juan Martin Del Potro.

The
quality of this match certainly did not rival that one, but it was not
short on drama, particularly in a second set full of twists and turns.

Federer
had made the first move in the opener, breaking in the fifth game with a
thumping forehand winner, but he gave the advantage straight back and
then dropped his serve to hand Djokovic the set.

Federer
came out firing at the start of the second, breaking Djokovic from 40-0
up in the opening game, including winning a stunning 36-shot rally that
had the crowd on their feet.

The
third seed looked in total control when he broke again for 3-0 but he
promptly gave his serve away and from there things got tight.

He
had three chances to move 5-2 ahead but he could not take them,
although Djokovic was slightly fortunate on one point that a line call
was overruled.

One way traffic: Nadal was the comfortable winner over Federer who failed to win a set

One way traffic: Nadal was the comfortable winner over Federer who failed to win a set

One way traffic: Nadal was the comfortable winner over Federer who failed to win a set

The Serb then levelled at 4-4 only for Federer to break for the third time in the set with two superb backhands down the line.

But
he had looked shaky on serve all match and it was no real surprise when
Djokovic broke again, or that the world number one made it three games
in a row to win the set.

And
there was no way back for Federer from there, with Djokovic breaking in
the sixth game of the decider and clinching victory on his second match
point.

An
unforced error count of 46 from Federer compared to 17 from his
opponent told the story, and Djokovic will now attempt to do to Nadal in
Paris what he has done in London, New York and Melbourne, although this
would certainly be the best of the lot.

Earlier,
the Spaniard put on an absolute masterclass against Ferrer, who simply
could do nothing about the relentless power and accuracy of his
opponent.

Nadal
won 19 of the last 22 points in the opening set and even a break in the
second for a heavy shower did nothing to put the 26-year-old off his
rhythm as he clinched victory in an hour and 46 minutes.

The
Spaniard goes into Sunday's final having lost his serve only once, not
dropped a set and lost just 35 games – the least since Bjorn Borg
dropped 27 in 1978 on his way to the final.

Packed house: The tennis fans arrived in their thousands... including film star Michael Madsen (below)

Packed house: The tennis fans arrived in their thousands… including film star Michael Madsen (below)

Packed house: The tennis fans arrived in their thousands... including film star Michael Madsen (below)

Nadal
has cut a happy and relaxed figure all tournament, and he declared the performance his best yet – although not perfect.

He
said: 'It was one of my best matches on this court. I think I played a
really solid match with not easy conditions out there, a lot of wind.

'In
my opinion I did almost everything right, because my serve worked very
well, my backhand was the best day so far today. The forehand, I have
hit well the forehand all tournament. Today wasn't an exception.

'I am very happy, but sorry for David. He deserved it. He's a great fighter. He's always there week after week.

'It's
a very important victory for me, and to win with this result against
one of the best players of the moment, one of the best players of the
world, is because I did very well. If not, it is impossible to win
against David like this.

'I
don't believe in perfection. I really don't like to talk about
perfection, because that, in my opinion, doesn't exist. You can always
play better.'

Ferrer
was content with his performances over the tournament as a whole and
felt there was little he could have done to change the outcome today.

The
30-year-old said: 'I tried to do my best, but when the opponent was
better than me, I can't do anything. He played very good all the time, I
didn't have any chance.

'I'm
very happy with my game all tournament. Maybe today was not the best
match of these two weeks, but it's my first semi-final at Roland Garros.'

Wet start: Play was delayed due to heavy showers in the French capital

Wet start: Play finally got under way after being delayed due to heavy showers in the French capital

Wet start: Play was delayed due to heavy showers in the French capital

Wet start: Play was delayed due to heavy showers in the French capital