• French Open, Day 13

Nadal: My best match of the tournament

ESPN staff
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Rafael Nadal was delighted with his performance against David Ferrer © PA Photos
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Nadal blows Ferrer away to reach final
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What They Said
Djokovic bullies Fed into submission

Rafael Nadal admitted he had suprised himself with how well he played in his crushing win over compatriot David Ferrer.

"You cannot expect to win this semi-final against one of the best players in the world - it was my best match at Roland Garros this year," he said. "David deserved to be in the final too and is one of my best friends on the tour. I wish him all the best for the rest of the season.

"Before the match, I didn't expect anything. I just wanted to go on court and try my best. They are always very tough matches against him, you can lose. But I believed I would have chances today and it was a fantastic performance from me.

"I'm very happy to be in the final of Roland Garros. There is no secret. I've worked hard all my life to enjoy moments like today. I feel good, I've had a very good season, I try my best every match, stay focused and humble every time. I focus on the things that worked well in the past."

Beaten semi-finalist David Ferrer played tribute to Nadal, labelling his fellow Spaniard the greatest clay-court player of all time.

"I tried to do my best, but when the opponent was better than me in the moment, there's nothing I can say," he said. "He played all the time very good; I didn't have any chance. Rafael is a very good player on clay courts. He's the best in history, and today he did an amazing match. I'm very happy with my game all tournament. Maybe today was not the best match of these two weeks, but it's my first semi- final in Roland Garros."

Novak Djokovic, bidding to become the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold four grand slam titles at once, admitted there is a lot at stake going into the final.

"There's a lot on the line," Djokovic said. "It always is when you're playing finals of a grand slam. We expect another emotional match, another big challenge for both of us, fighting for one of the four biggest titles in our sport. And of course the other side, for me personally, is that I have this golden opportunity to make history. This motivates me. It really inspires me. I'm really grateful to be in this position, obviously. I'll try to prepare for that match and get my hands on that trophy if I can.

"He [Nadal] plays always his best here in Roland Garros, and so I expect to do that as well on Sunday. I know that I have to be playing consistently well on a very high level in order to win best of five against Nadal here.

"It's an ultimate challenge. But I believe that today was the best match of 2012 Roland Garros for me, so I've raised my game when I needed to. I played really well when it was the most important, so that's something that gives me confidence obviously before the finals. Both of us want this title. We'll see who will prevail."

Roger Federer was left to rue a string of unforced errors and missed opportunities as he crashed out with defeat to Djokovic.

"I thought he played well under tough conditions," Federer said. "I wasn't able to sustain maybe a solid enough game today. I did have enough chances, so it's no excuse there. I tried, and it just didn't work out today.

"Semi-finals is, at the end of the day, a very good result for any tennis player. For me, too. I wish I could have done a bit better today, especially with the wasted opportunities. But that's how it goes sometimes. I've got to go change things around now for grass anyway. I'm looking forward to that. It's been a difficult clay court season."

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