Nadal beats Federer to reach 12th French Open final

Updated 1:09 PM EDT, Fri June 7, 2019
roger on bjorn
roger on bjorn
Now playing
03:18
Roger Federer muses on retirement planning
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 21: Novak Djokovic of Serbia holds the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup as he celebrates victory in his Men's Singles Final match against Daniil Medvedev of Russia  during day 14 of the 2021 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on February 21, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 21: Novak Djokovic of Serbia holds the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup as he celebrates victory in his Men's Singles Final match against Daniil Medvedev of Russia during day 14 of the 2021 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on February 21, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:44
Novak Djokovic is the no. 1 of number ones
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 14: Su-Wei Hsieh of Chinese Taipei celebrates victory in her Women's Singles fourth round match against Marketa Vondrousova of Czech Republic during day seven of the 2021 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on February 14, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
Matt King/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 14: Su-Wei Hsieh of Chinese Taipei celebrates victory in her Women's Singles fourth round match against Marketa Vondrousova of Czech Republic during day seven of the 2021 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on February 14, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:20
Hsieh Su-Wei: Taiwanese tennis star reflects on memorable Australian Open
Serena Williams w/ daughter Olympia
@SerenaWilliams
Serena Williams w/ daughter Olympia
Now playing
00:43
Tennis legend's daughter joins her on the court
Spectators walk into Melbourne Park ahead of the first round matches at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021.(AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)
Andy Brownbill/AP
Spectators walk into Melbourne Park ahead of the first round matches at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021.(AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)
Now playing
02:09
Australian Open: Amid pandemic, grand slam begins with 30,000 fans attending
Naomi Osaka, 22, wears a mask bearing the name of Tamir Rice as she walks on court for the final of the US Open on September 12, 2020.
Al Bello/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Naomi Osaka, 22, wears a mask bearing the name of Tamir Rice as she walks on court for the final of the US Open on September 12, 2020.
Now playing
02:49
Naomi Osaka on raising awareness for racial injustice with her masks
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 31: Nick Kyrgios of Australia reacts during a practice session at Melbourne Park on January 31, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. Melbourne Park is now out of lockdown mode following the end of the player and support staff quarantine period after arriving in Melbourne on International flights and they can resume a regular practice schedule ahead of lead in tournaments before the 2021 Australian Open. (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images)
Jack Thomas/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 31: Nick Kyrgios of Australia reacts during a practice session at Melbourne Park on January 31, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. Melbourne Park is now out of lockdown mode following the end of the player and support staff quarantine period after arriving in Melbourne on International flights and they can resume a regular practice schedule ahead of lead in tournaments before the 2021 Australian Open. (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images)
Now playing
04:06
Nick Kyrgios finds another reason to love tennis
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 05: General view on court 10 at Melbourne Park on February 05, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. All matches yesterday were cancelled due to the amount of players and staff that had to undergo Covid19 Tests and Isolation as a result of a Coronavirus community case announced on Wednesday night. Play resumes at Melbourne Park in the lead up to the 2021 Australian Open. (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images)
Jack Thomas/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 05: General view on court 10 at Melbourne Park on February 05, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. All matches yesterday were cancelled due to the amount of players and staff that had to undergo Covid19 Tests and Isolation as a result of a Coronavirus community case announced on Wednesday night. Play resumes at Melbourne Park in the lead up to the 2021 Australian Open. (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:12
Australian Open: With pandemic match-prep done, players are set for the grand slam
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 01:  Sofia Kenin of the United States poses with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup after her Women's Singles Final match against Garbine Muguruza of Spain> on day thirteen of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on February 01, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 01: Sofia Kenin of the United States poses with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup after her Women's Singles Final match against Garbine Muguruza of Spain> on day thirteen of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on February 01, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:06
Sofia Kenin: 2020 Australian Open champion opens up
Now playing
14:25
Rafael Nadal calls for 'wider perspective' from players ahead of Australian Open
nick kyrgios covid-19 coronavirus australia us open abierto estadounidense tenis deportes cnne vo_00000024.jpg
nick kyrgios covid-19 coronavirus australia us open abierto estadounidense tenis deportes cnne vo_00000024.jpg
Now playing
03:08
Nick Kyrgios embraces role as moral voice on Covid-19
Vasek Pospisil of Canada hits a return against Richard Gasquet of France during the semi-final match of the ATP 250 Sofia Open tennis tournament in Sofia on November 13, 2020. (Photo by NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV / AFP) (Photo by NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP via Getty Images)
NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/AFP via Getty Images
Vasek Pospisil of Canada hits a return against Richard Gasquet of France during the semi-final match of the ATP 250 Sofia Open tennis tournament in Sofia on November 13, 2020. (Photo by NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV / AFP) (Photo by NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
04:37
Australian Open: Vasek Pospisil on the hard quarantine for players
An unidentified tennis player exercises in her hotel room in Melbourne in January 17, 2021, where players are quarantining for two weeks ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament. (Photo by William WEST / AFP) (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)
WILLIAM WEST/AFP/AFP via Getty Images
An unidentified tennis player exercises in her hotel room in Melbourne in January 17, 2021, where players are quarantining for two weeks ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament. (Photo by William WEST / AFP) (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
03:32
Australian Open: Controversy surrounds tournament as players complain of lack of practice
Michael Dodge/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
Now playing
05:30
Patrick Mouratoglou on Serena Williams, the men's game and the future of tennis
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 22:  Daniil Medvedev of Russia lifts the trophy after winning his singles final match against Dominic Thiem of Austria during day eight of the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals at The O2 Arena on November 22, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 22: Daniil Medvedev of Russia lifts the trophy after winning his singles final match against Dominic Thiem of Austria during day eight of the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals at The O2 Arena on November 22, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:08
Daniil Medvedev: ATP Finals champ reflects on biggest win of career
PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 11: Iga Swiatek of Poland poses on the rooftop of les Galeries Lafayettes Rue de la Chaussee d'Antin with the Suzanne Lenglen Cup following her victory in the Women's Singles Final against Sofia Kenin of The United States of America on day fifteen of the 2020 French Open on October 11, 2020 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 11: Iga Swiatek of Poland poses on the rooftop of les Galeries Lafayettes Rue de la Chaussee d'Antin with the Suzanne Lenglen Cup following her victory in the Women's Singles Final against Sofia Kenin of The United States of America on day fifteen of the 2020 French Open on October 11, 2020 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:33
Iga Swiatek on winning 2020 French Open
(CNN) —  

Roger Federer’s comeback at the French Open is over. But Rafael Nadal just keeps going as he usually does at Roland Garros after downing the Swiss 6-3 6-4 6-2 to reach a 12th final.

The 39th meeting of the tennis behemoths didn’t match the drama of their 2008 Wimbledon epic or 2017 Australian Open classic but will be remembered for one big thing, the wind.

Organizers were surely relieved the rain that caused havoc Wednesday didn’t resurface early Friday, as some forecasts suggested another complete washout was a possibility. Yet Mother Nature still sought to intervene. And did.

There was light drizzle for the captivating women’s semifinals before a huge breeze rose up for the men’s semifinals. Temperatures additionally struggled to top 17 degrees Celsius (63 Fahrenheit).

Federer and Nadal, who own 37 majors between them, took turns pausing before serves as gusts blew clay into their eyes and the ball danced once airborne.

“The conditions out there today have been so hard, so difficult to manage,” said Nadal. “Was the day to be just focused, accept all the adversities. That’s what I tried to do.”

The victorious Spaniard won’t know who he will encounter in the final until Saturday, since the second semifinal between world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and last year’s finalist Dominic Thiem was surprisingly suspended in a third set with Thiem leading the 15-time major champion 6-2 3-6 3-1. The rain made another visit.

When play was called off, however, at around 6:30 pm local time, the rain had stopped.

An annoyed Djokovic – seeking to win four straight grand slams for the second time in his career – had wanted play to be halted in the first set due to the playing conditions but he was denied by supervisor Andreas Egli.

Whoever eventually wins will be at a sizable disadvantage Sunday, bereft of the usual day off between the semis and finale as they try to dethrone Nadal.

READ: Teen Vondrousova to meet Barty in French Open final

READ: Women’s semifinal venue’s ‘unfair and inappropriate’

’Surprised myself’

Novak Djokovic wanted play halted in the first set of his semifinal against Dominic Thiem due to the playing conditions but his request was denied.
Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
Novak Djokovic wanted play halted in the first set of his semifinal against Dominic Thiem due to the playing conditions but his request was denied.

Nadal said only last week that hailing from an island – Mallorca – he was accustomed to wind and adapts well to such breezy conditions. His heavily spun ground strokes help with control.

The numbers backed him up as the newly turned 33-year-old struck 33 winners, dovetailing with a mere 19 unforced errors.

Federer wasn’t dismal by any means, tallying 25 winners and 34 unforced errors.

The wind aside, clay is Nadal’s preferred surface. He improved to 6-0 at the French Open against his 37-year-old friend and 14-2 on dirt altogether.

Federer’s five-match winning streak over Nadal that stretched back to 2015 vanished, like last weekend’s summery conditions in the French capital.

But he can at least start to think about the grass following a likely break.

Even so, the 20-time grand slam champion felt it was a successful return to the French Open after missing the previous three editions to prepare for his preferred grass of Wimbledon.

“I thought it was a great tournament,” said Federer. “I really enjoyed it. Crowd support couldn’t have been better. Maybe one of the best ever in my entire 20-year career that I have been on tour at a slam.

“In terms of playing, I think I played really, actually, well. You know, I think I surprised myself maybe how deep I got in this tournament and how well I actually was able to play throughout.”

Visit CNN Sport for more news and videos

Rafael Nadal reached his 12th French Open final in Paris.
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Rafael Nadal reached his 12th French Open final in Paris.

’Biggest regret’

Federer called his Australian Open victory against Nadal two years one of the finest moments of his record-breaking career, and downing the 11-time champion at Roland Garros would have come close to topping that.

But for that to happen Federer needed to take every half chance – like an underdog in football facing Barcelona or Manchester City.

Despite the first set being about how to cope with the conditions, Federer said, he started well enough.

The 2009 champion earned a break point in the first game. He failed to capitalize and Nadal broke immediately for 2-0.

Even though Federer got back on serve, Nadal restored his break advantage by converting on his sixth chance at 3-2.

The second set, as Federer admitted, was truly his opportunity.

He led 2-0, threatened but couldn’t break Nadal at 4-3, and then was broken from 40-0 at 4-4.

The miniscule chance of a comeback fizzled.

“Second set, I think there is definitely the biggest regret to get broken at two love with the wind in my back,” said Federer. “If I can avoid that one, maybe the second set turns out to be different.”

Chanting his name

Nadal was now in full flow, doing his thing.

He ripped backhand passing shots, curled forehands down the line and defended well when Federer attacked.

Federer called him unique, despite seeing players come and go over the course of his 20-year career.

“I don’t even know who I need to go search for to go practice with somebody who plays like him,” said Federer.

“I was thinking that during the match. It’s just amazing how he plays from deep and then is able to bounce back and forth from the baseline. It’s just quite interesting.”

Relayed his comments, Nadal replied: “I don’t find any sparring partners, either, playing like Federer. There are no two people like Federer on this planet. Luckily, actually.”