Rafael Nadal ensured that the 2014 Rome Masters will get a dream matchup in the finals.
The top player in the world defeated Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinals, setting up a championship battle against Novak Djokovic.
Nadal came out firing in the first set against Dimitrov, as he was especially impressive with his serve. He won 16 of his 21 service points and never faced break point in the 6-2 win.
Andrew Burton of Tennis World noted how easy it was for the favorite:
Second break for Nadal who, frankly, could be in an armchair out there. He's that comfortable. Nadal leads 5-2, double break.— Andrew Burton (@burtonad) May 17, 2014
The second set did not get much tougher for him as he was able to build up another impressive lead:
Nadal continues to completely dismantle Dimitrov; he leads 5-1 in the 2nd set. #ESPNTennis— ESPNTennis (@ESPNTennis) May 17, 2014
While Dimitrov held serve in the next game, he was unable to do much more, and Nadal was able to come away with the easy victory.
Dimitrov struggled at times with his accuracy in the match, totaling three double faults and needing to go to the second serve too often. This does not often lead to success against Nadal, as he only won four of 17 second-serve points.
This is the first straight-set victory for Nadal, who had gone through a rough stretch in this tournament. He needed three sets to beat each of Gilles Simon, Mikhail Youzhny and Andy Murray in the past three rounds, although he came out victorious each time.
When asked about his struggles, he explained, via Courtney Nguyen of Sports Illustrated:
Get used to [it], because with the years it is the normal thing and in the end everybody suffers. It’s part of the sport. It’s part of the careers of everybody.
I am almost 28. At this age, [Bjorn] Borg was doing other things. It’s not possible to win for 10 years a lot of matches with easy results, easy scores. At the same time, I am sure that I can do it much better than I am doing. I need to do it. When somebody wants to do it, when somebody is fighting to do it, a lot of times you find the solutions. I am fighting in every match.
Despite the issues, he continues to win matches and advance in these prestigious tournaments. Until he fails to pull through in these tough contests, there is nothing to worry about.
Nadal will now move on to the finals to face Djokovic, who has also been dealing with some tough matches in this tournament. He needed three sets to defeat Philipp Kohlschreiber, David Ferrer and most recently, Milos Raonic, in a semifinal that featured two tiebreaks.
Who will win in the finals?
Both competitors will be tired in the championship round, but it will come down to the man who makes fewer mistakes.
While Djokovic has won the last three times these two stars have faced each other, the winner of this next match will likely have the mental advantage heading into Roland Garros.
Dimitrov should also have plenty of confidence at the French Open after a successful run in Rome. Few players have been able to beat Nadal on clay, so he should not feel badly about coming up short.
The Bulgarian remains one of the top up-and-coming players in the world and someone who should be in contention for more titles this season.
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