Rafa Nadal on a warpath at the French Open
The champion beats Almagro for 26th straight win in Paris - on his 22nd birthday.4 June 2008
MADRID - Neither the Paris drizzle nor Nicolás Almagro's token tough serve were able to dampen Rafa Nadal's 22nd birthday at the French Open on Tuesday. The three-time tournament champion steamrolled his quarterfinal opponent 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 in less than two hours. Nadal will next play world number three Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.
Despite boasting the ATP circuit's most wins on clay in 2008 - eight more than Nadal - and the French Open's toughest serve, Almagro came up short in both areas against the world number two, who has yet to drop a set in Paris this year and is still unbeaten in Paris having won 26 straight matches at the Grand Slam event.
The Murcian served only three aces against Nadal, far from the near 20 he had been averaging thus far in the tournament, and found his first service aim only 37 percent of the time.
"[Nadal] played at a very high level all match," Almagro said. "I didn't have my best day. When Rafa plays like this, the only thing you can do is wish him a happy birthday and good luck."
Nadal, who said he was pleased with his own performance, excused his competitor's poor showing: "I thought it was going to be a very tough match because he has a very good serve. But the Centre Court is not easy to play on; the court is very big and it's hard to adapt."
The decisive win also gave Nadal the new record for the fewest games conceded en route to a men's French Open semi-finals (25), one less than Swedish legend Bjorn Borg.
However, Nadal does not expect his semi-finals meeting with Djokovic to be such breeze.
"I will try and take the next match with humility and calm. Against Djokovic, it will be very tough, very hard until the end," he said. The pair also squared off in the semi-finals of last year's Open, with Nadal beating the Serb in straight sets.
Tough luck for Carla
Nadal and David Ferrer, who plays on Wednesday, became the last two Spaniards in the French Open after Spain's lone female in the semi-finals, Carla Suárez Navarro, was defeated by Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-2.
[El Pais / K. R. / Expatica]