Four-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal moved one victory from reclaiming the No. 1 ranking in men’s tennis from Roger Federer.
Nadal can recapture the top spot in the world by defeating Robin Soderling tomorrow in the French Open final and avenging his only career loss at Roland Garros.
The second-seeded Nadal, from Spain, defeated No. 22 Jurgen Melzer of Austria in straight sets in yesterday’s semifinals. Soderling needed five sets to overcome Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic and reach his second straight French Open final.
“Playing on this court is always amazing, and it’s great to be in the finals again,” Nadal said in a courtside interview after leaping into the air on Court Philippe Chatrier to celebrate his win.
The women’s final is today, with Australia’s Samantha Stosur facing Francesca Schiavone of Italy in a contest between two players making their Grand Slam final debut.
The 17th-seeded Schiavone, 29, will try to become the first Italian woman to win a major title. No. 7 Stosur, 26, would be the first Australian woman in three decades to win a Grand Slam singles championship.
Nadal, who defeated Melzer 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6), has won three of his five matches against Soderling -- the only man ever to defeat Nadal on the red clay of Roland Garros, winning their match last year in the round of 16.
“We will see,” Nadal said, when asked if he was seeking revenge against Soderling. “He’s playing really, really good.”
The fifth-seeded Soderling, from Sweden, won 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 against Berdych.
‘Best Dream Ever’
“It’s better than the best dream ever,” Soderling said in a courtside interview after the match. “It’s unbelievable, when I came here I only wanted to look at passing the first round.”
In the previous round, Soderling upset defending champion Federer. The Swede’s first win in 13 meetings over the Swiss Grand Slam record holder broke Federer’s record of 23 straight Grand Slam semifinal appearances.
Soderling said he can take confidence from last year’s win in Paris against Nadal.
“Of course it’s always good to have beaten a player before,” the Swede said in a news conference. “I know that I can beat him. I showed it. But every match is a new match, and every match is different.”