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Nadal dismisses Djokovic's conqueror Berdych to reach Rome final

Power play: Nadal outmuscled Berdych to reach the Rome Masters final.

Story highlights

  • Rafael Nadal reaches eighth straight final since his comeback
  • Nadal dismisses Tomas Berdych 6-2 6-4 in Rome Masters semi
  • He will play Roger Federer in the title match
  • Serena Williams takes on Victoria Azarenka in women's final
Tomas Berdych may have upset World No.1 Novak Djokovic but found Rafael Nadal an altogether tougher proposition in the semifinals of the Rome Masters Saturday.
Nadal was at his impeccable best to sweep aside the big-hitting Czech 6-2 6-4 to reach his eighth straight ATP Tour final since returning to action in February after a long-term injury.
He will face his long-time rival Roger Federer after the Swiss ended the hopes of France's Benoit Paire with a 7-6 6-4 win in the second semifinal.
Berdych's defeat of Djokovic in the quarters would have done wonders for his confidence, but it took precisely one game for a reality check to set in.
Nadal came out firing on all cylinders to break his opponent immediately and he was never headed.
The crowd at the Foro Italico were treated to a clay court exhibition, particularly in the first set as the 26-year-old Spaniard broke Berdych a second time to rub it in.
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Rafael Nadal returns to the court
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The second set was closer and Berdych, who broke Djokovic's service as the Serbian served for the match in the previous round, gave himself a glimmer of hope by holding fast to four games apiece.
But he was broken for a third time as Nadal stepped up a gear before wrapping up his passage to the final.
"He starts really well and, of course, it's Rafa and we know how he plays on clay," Berdych told the official ATP Tour website.
"It was a good start for him. Yesterday I had one chance that I did take and I won, and today I had one chance that I didn't take and I lost."
Nadal had achieved the incredible feat of winning all 100% of points after his second service as he made it 13 straight wins on the tour over the unfortunate Berdych.
He will be heavy favorite to win his 24th Masters 1,000 crown Sunday before heading to Paris for his defense of the French Open crown.
"The first set was fantastic," Nadal said. "I played at a high level and everything went well with no mistakes. I was dominating the points and following to the net. I think I played one of my best matches since I am came back."
Federer, who has been in fine form in Rome, was given a stern test by Paire, particularly in the first set, but used his experience to good effect to set up a repeat of his 2006 final in the Italian capital against Nadal.
Earlier, women's World No. 1 Serena Williams ended the hopes of Romanian qualifier Simona Halep with a routine 6-3 6-0 win in their semifinal.
15-time grand slam champion Williams is on a 23-game winning streak and will look to extend that against No.3 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.
The American is 32-1 on clay since last year -- her only loss against Virginie Razzano at Roland Garros last year.
"I don't know if I feel better on clay this year or last year," Williams told the WTA Tour website.
"I felt great last year and I feel great this year too. I love playing on clay and have done very well on it, even at Roland Garros."
Azarenka beat Italian seventh seed 6-0 7-5 Sara Errani in their last four clash.