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Rafa vs Nole - Who Will Be The Next King?

Rafel Nadal and Novak Djokovic will meet in the French Open semi-finals for the second straight year after both won their quarter-finals in straight sets.

Rafael Nadal was utterly dominant once more, surrendering just three games to Nicolas Almagro, his barrel-chested Spanish compatriot, in what devolved Tuesday into the most lopsided men's quarterfinal at Roland Garros in the 40-year Open era.

The victory extended three-time champion Nadal's lifetime unbeaten record at Roland Garros to 26 matches.

"Before the match I thought it would be tough because Nicolas has a very good serve and forehand but his problem is movement," said Nadal.

"On centre court, it's not easy because of the wind and it's also very big so it's hard to adapt if you are not used to it.

"But he made a lot of mistakes. I controlled the points and I was feeling the ball better."

"Now I will face Djokovic and that will be a very tough match," said Nadal. "I beat him in the Hamburg semi-final but it was close.

"However, I feel as if I am improving and have got better and better." (Is it possible to play better then this???)

Third-seeded Djokovic got past childhood friend Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 7-5, 7-6 (7-3), 7-5 in 3 hours, 7 minutes. The last time they had played each other was at Nikki Pilic's tennis academy in Munich where both had come to live and train after leaving their homes as youngsters. Gulbis, like Almagro, was also playing in his first Grand Slam quarter.

The 21-year-old Djokovic recorded twice as many breaks as Gulbis (4-2), while the Latvian misfired for 60 unforced errors, 24 more than the winner from Serbia.

"I knew he would be aggressive and go for his shots. I needed to be patient and just calm his game down," said Djokovic, who lost to Nadal in the semi-finals here.

"It's tricky to play against a close friend. He made some unforced errors at crucial times and the rain helped me a lot because it slowed the courts down and made his serve a little less effective."

The gritty Nadal and smooth Djokovic have split a pair of matches this season, with the Serbian taking a semifinal matchup at Indian Wells and Nadal claiming a semifinal victory on clay in Hamburg.

Nadal is 7-3 lifetime against Djokovic, including 2-0 without dropping a set here at Roland Garros and a 4-0 overall mark on clay. The Spaniard beat the Serb in the quarterfinals here in 2006 and topped him in the semis last year.

Djokovic will play in his fifth straight Grand Slam semifinal. He captured the Australian Open back in January and lost to Federer in last year's U.S. Open finale.

(source New York Times,
photo/FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images+JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images via Yahoo Sports)

via Great Tennis Photos

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Comment by Mark / The Mayor on June 5, 2008 at 10:38am
Well, we find out tomorrow. It looks like Rafa is going to smear little Nole out there. :-)
Comment by Elaine on June 5, 2008 at 9:54am
Me, too, Mark, I also picked Nole, but, I have to admit, I think I will be wrong.
Comment by Svetlana on June 5, 2008 at 7:02am
I have to admit that Nadal showed the best tennis so far. I would like Nole to win, but I think Nadal will stay the king...
Comment by OneLuv (JC for short) on June 4, 2008 at 3:05am
Rafa has been playing on another level. He seems to step up just in time for the French Open. Sorry Svetlana but I predict another Federer vs. Nadal Final here. I tell you what though Men's tennis is really getting good. Mix into this the drama between Djokovic and Federer and you got me glued to the TV.
Comment by Mark / The Mayor on June 3, 2008 at 4:52pm
Great post! I love the picture you found and the way they are mirrored! very cool AND it looks great on the main page - I can tell that you have figured out that the horizontal pictures look best on there.

Before the french started, I picked Djoker, but now, after seeing Nadal, I'm second guessing my pick. Nadal looks like a god.

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