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Nadal and Roger meet again

13.05.2006 | Tennis

Roger will face defending champion Rafael Nadal, after defeating David Nalbandian in his semifinal, defeating him 6-3, 3-6, 7-6.

The final gives the world's top two players a chance to resume their intense rivalry in which Spaniard Nadal holds the upper hand after winning the last three contests, including the final of the Monte Carlo Masters claycourt event last month. "It's always special when the top two play each other. It certainly was in Monte Carlo," said Roger, whose best result in five previous visits to the Italian capital was runner-up to Felix Mantilla in 2003. "We both look forward to it. It's good for us and good for the game, especially on clay."

While Nadal had few problems getting the better of Frenchman Monfils in the battle of the 19-year-olds, Roger was forced to come from a break down in the deciding set of his match against fourth seed Nalbandian. It was his second close brush with defeat in as many days following his quarterfinal against Spanish qualifier Nicolas Almagro, which he edged 7-5 in the third. Argentines Nalbandian promised to be a tough opponent, having beaten Federer six times in their previous 10 meetings, including in the season-ending Masters Cup final last year.

If Nadal beats the world number one on Sunday he will equal Guillermo Vilas's all-time record of 53 consecutive wins on clay, set in 1977.

For Roger, it is already his sixth final in the second-highest tournament series. should he triumph in the match against Nadal - best of five - it would be his 11th title at a Masters-Series event. This would bring him up to the second place on the ranking in this statistic after Pete Sampras.

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