Tennis - Nadal reaches Rome Masters final

Rafael Nadal remained on track for his seventh Rome Masters title in nine years when he beat Tomas Berdych 6-2 6-4 to book his place in the final.

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Tennis - Nadal reaches Rome Masters final
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Spain's Rafael Nadal serves a ball to Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych (AFP)

Fifth seed Nadal was sublime in the first set, breaking in the first and fourth games to take it in exactly 30 minutes.

Berdych made the second set a more competitive affair but Nadal found another level to break in the ninth game before serving out to reach his eighth consecutive final since returning from injury in February.

Since making his return from seventh months on the sidelines with injury in February, Nadal has picked up titles in Sao Paulo, Acapulco, Indian Wells, Barcelona and Madrid, while also reaching the finals in Vina del Mar, Monte Carlo and now Rome.

With Berdych coming into the match off the back of a win over Novak Djokovic, Nadal was clearly in no mood to mess around against the Czech sixth seed and broke in the opening game of the match with a vicious forehand winner that set the tone for the first half hour.

A second break followed in the fourth, back-to-back backhand passing shot winners bring up the break points before a forehand passing shot winner down the opposite line sealed the game for the Spaniard.

Nadal quickly formalised his lead by serving out the set to love before Berdych finally got a foot in the match by fashioning a break point opportunity in the second game of the second set.

The chance went begging, however, and with it Berdych’s only real opportunity to get back into the match, that being the Czech’s only break point of the game.

After exchanging comfortable service holds through the middle of the set, Nadal lifted his level almost imperceptibly in the ninth game, breaking to love when Berdych failed to find the court with a forehand.

Nadal did miss his first match point, the Spaniard’s only wrong step of the afternoon, but quickly made amends with a huge first serve down the centre of the court that Berdych could only return long.

"I am feeling better physically," the 11-times grand slam winner said in an interview with Spanish television broadcaster Teledeporte.

"These are emotional moments for me as I think I have managed to turn around a situation in which after many months of doubts I am able to play at a level that I would not have dreamed of four months ago."

The world number five, who will move ahead of compatriot David Ferrer and back into fourth should he win the title, will face Roger Federer in the championship match on Sunday, after the second seed defeated Benoit Paire 7-6(5) 6-4 in the second semi-final.

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