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Birthday boy has an eye on the final

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Standing between the King of Clay and a 14th title in Paris is Alexander Zverev in this afternoon’s 2.45pm semi-final duel.

epa09988719 Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts as he plays Novak Djokovic of Serbia in their men’s quarterfinal match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 31 May 2022. EPA/MOHAMMED BADRA

BIRTHDAY boy Rafa Nadal is wishing for another special day on Court Philippe-Chatrier today, as he looks to make it to Sunday’s French Open final.

Standing between the King of Clay and a 14th title in Paris is Alexander Zverev in this afternoon’s 2.45pm semi-final duel.

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In his quest for a record-extending 22nd Grand Slam title, Nadal has hit the sort of form that makes a mockery of his now-36-year-old body, not to mention the fact that he is playing with a foot injury.

But on his favourite court, where he beat great rival Novak Djokovic on Tuesday night, Nadal will be hoping to blow almal away again like blowing out candles on a birthday cake.

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He says: “This court is always special for me. There’s something unique about it.

“It’s true that on the days when I’ve needed it the most, I’ve been able to once again find a level that I didn’t have before, even a few days ago.

“So I’m happy about this. Now that I’ve found a way to play at this level, the main thing will be to try and maintain it so I can have chances for what lies ahead.”

Should the Spaniard prevail, he will meet the winner of late-session semifinal between Marin Cilic and Casper Ruud in Sunday’s decider.

Cilic beat Andrey Rublev in five sets, Ruud overpowered teen Holger Ruud 6-1, 4-6, 7-6, 6-3.

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