Nadal to face Djokovic in Queen's final

LONDON Sat Jun 14, 2008 9:28pm IST

LONDON (Reuters) - Rafael Nadal ended Andy Roddick's bid for a record fifth title at the ATP tournament at Queen's Club by charging into the final with a 7-5 6-4 win on Saturday.

The top-seeded Spaniard, bidding for his first grasscourt title, will face Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

The Serbian blew away David Nalbandian with a 6-1 6-0 demolition in 47 brutal minutes.

Nadal barged into his first final at the warm-up tournament for Wimbledon by easily overpowering the big-serving American on the slick, green surface.

"It was an important match for me. I played against the best player here in Queen's, the defending champion," Nadal, who had romped to his fourth successive French Open title last Sunday without dropping a set in the tournament, said at courtside.

"Andy was the favourite for the match. He is a very, very good player, he has an amazing serve...so I'm happy to be in this final."

American Roddick, champion here in four of the past five years, had not dropped his serve all week but came unstuck against an opponent who barely put a foot wrong during the 87-minute contest.

Roddick fired down 14 aces but his power was blunted by the astonishing retrieving skills of Nadal, who extended his winning streak to 16 matches.

"He's just so match-sharp right now. He's almost in cruise control from just playing so many matches. Credit to him. He just beat me today," said Roddick.

INJURY BREAK

The third seed, making his comeback after being sidelined for a month with back and shoulder injuries, had barely been tested this week and paid the price for his lack of match fitness.

He received a bye in the first round and played only a set in the third round on Thursday before his friend Mardy Fish called it quits. On Friday he did not even have to show up on court after his quarter-final opponent Andy Murray handed him a walkover.

On Saturday, he saved three break points in the third game of the opening set against Nadal before his resolve crumbled in the 11th game.

A backhand error handed Nadal break point and the 22-year-old grabbed his chance to sneak ahead with a thundering forehand winner down the line.

Roddick had four chances to break back in the next game but a combination of pinpoint serving and bludgeoning groundstrokes from Nadal frustrated the American each time.

After displaying his survival instincts, Nadal wrapped up the set on his first set point, ending an eight-shot rally with a deft volley.

Roddick's hold on the title was all but over when a mishit forehand ballooned long over the baseline to give Nadal a break for 3-2 in the second set.

A scorching forehand winner ended Roddick's challenge, leaving Nadal to celebrate with a trademark fistpump.

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