Rafael Nadal Will Cruise to 7th Career Rome Masters Final Win on Sunday

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IMay 18, 2013

ROME, ITALY - MAY 18:  Rafael Nadal of Spain plays in action against Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in their semi final match during day seven of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2013 at the Foro Italico Tennis Centre  on May 18, 2013 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

There's never been a player as dominant on clay or at the Rome Masters than Rafael Nadal, who will be gunning for a seventh career title at the Italian Open on Sunday.

Nadal will face the the greatest champion in the history of men's tennis in this weekend's final, but even Fed doesn't stand much of a chance going up against the 26-year-old Spaniard on his favorite surface.

The defending champion at this tournament and a six-time winner in the past, Rafa has reached the final in Rome for the eighth time since 2005. And while Federer is a 17-time Grand Slam champion, he's just 2-12 against his archrival on clay all time.

Plus, Fed has never won this tournament before, coming closest in 2003 and 2006, when he finished as runner-up on both occasions. And while Fed has been playing arguably his best tennis of the season this May in the Italian capital, his history against the King of Clay is discouraging. 

Fed hasn't beaten Nadal on clay since the 2009 Madrid Masters final. That was a straight set win, but the Swiss legend was also just 27 years old at the time, rather than 31 going on 32.

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Meanwhile, there might not be a single player on the planet capable of slowing the seven-time French Open champ at the moment.

In Saturday's semifinal win over Tomas Berdych, Nadal was outright dominant, winning 100 percent of his second-serve points (10-of-10) to take the match in straight sets, winning 6-2, 6-4 in just under 80 minutes.

The Czech star made plenty of unforced errors, but credit Nadal for capitalizing. 

Nadal also won 42 percent of his return points, compared to Berdych, who won just 18 percent of his return points for the match. The win bodes extremely well for Rafa on Sunday and quite terribly for the rest of the men's field as the French Open draws closer.

While Nadal did look human in wins over Ernests Gulbis and David Ferrer, he was able to overcome both men despite leaving his A-game at home. It's victories like those two that prove Rafa is in a class by himself when it comes to the red stuff.

Keep in mind that Rafa is 27-1 in his last 28 clay-court matches dating back to last February. The lone loss coming to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in Monte Carlo. Djokovic, meanwhile, was bounced in the quarterfinals of Rome on Friday, losing to none other than Tomas Berdych.

Roger Federer will likely go down as Rafael Nadal's greatest rival, but he's no longer the same player he was four or five years ago. Nadal has taken 11 of the their last 15 meetings dating back to the start of 2008.

More importantly, Rafa is 7-2 against Federer in tournament finals over that time.

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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