World number one Roger Federer advanced to the final of the French Open for the first time on Friday when Argentina’s David Nalbandian retired injured while the Swiss player was leading 3-6, 6-4, 5-2 in their semifinal tie.
Federer (24) will play either defending champion Rafael Nadal of Spain or Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic in Sunday’s final.
Third-seed Nalbandian suffered an abdominal strain in the third set, and although he tried to continue, he eventually called it quits as Federer threatened to canter off into the distance.
Nalbandian had started so well, breaking three of Federer’s opening six service games, but from 6-3, 3-0 he won only three of the next 11 games.
Federer was unusually slow out of the blocks and made a host of errors, but he looked unruffled as Nalbandian produced his best tennis to open up a commanding lead.
But if anyone thought Federer would lie down, they were quickly proved wrong.
In the fourth game of the second set, the world’s best player started clicking into gear and produced an array of stunning shots.
Nalbandian was not playing badly, but no one in the world can live with Federer when he hits that form.
In one rally he looked dead and buried as a Nalbandian lob dipped into the far corner, only for a backtracking Federer to reach it and with his back to the court hit a sensational flicked passing shot down the line.
The crowd rose as one in rapturous applause and the Swiss Master tellingly lifted one finger to the sky.
Federer reeled off five games in a row, and eight from nine, to move a break ahead in the third.
Nalbandian called the trainer at 1-2 and when he was broken a second time for 2-5, he decided he could go on no more as Federer reached his fourth Grand Slam final in a row. — AFP