Federer and Djokovic to clash in Rome final

Roger Federer will renew his rivalry with Novak Djokovic in the Italian Open final on Sunday, giving the 17-time Grand Slam champion another chance to add an elusive title to his collection.

Federer dispatched Swiss countryman Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-2 in less than an hour in the semifinals on Saturday, while the top-ranked Djokovic delivered his best performance of the week, downing David Ferrer 6-4, 6-4.

Along with Monte Carlo, Rome is one of only two Masters series titles that Federer has never won.

''I just like winning a title. Now OK, this is Rome, and it's one I've never won so you might think it's extra special but for some reason it's not for me,'' Federer said.

Looking to replicate his dominant performance from a quarter-final upset of Rafael Nadal, Wawrinka sprinted to an early 3-0 lead on Sunday at the Foro Italico. The 30 year old dropped a mere four points in breaking his friend and rival in the second game and consolidating.

As was the key to success against Nadal, Wawrinka stepped into his shots from the baseline, taking his backhand early and not allowing Federer to find a rhythm off the ground. But the World No. 2 would have an immediate authoritative response, breaking back to 15 and pulling level at 3-all.

Federer maintained a swift response to Wawrinka's initial run, reeling off six of seven games to snatch the opening set. He would secure a second break for 5-4 behind a stunning backhand winner that clipped the far edge of the tramline.

With Wawrinka's quick start far in the rear-view mirror, Federer relinquished just six points in grabbing a 5-1 lead in the second set and the three-time finalist would claim victory in 55 minutes. The second seed reached his 41st ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final and 129th overall.

"I was happy with how I played, I was able to impose my game. Basically rock solid from the moment I got my game down," said Federer.

Federer had 18 winners to Wawrinka's 14, and won 12 of 14 points at the net.

This will be Federer's fourth final at the Foro Italico in 15 appearances: He was beaten by Felix Mantilla in 2003, by Nadal in a fifth-set tiebreaker in 2006, and by Nadal again in 2013.

''Tomorrow, I feel like I have a chance to play for it,'' Federer said. ''Novak is not Rafa on clay so it's a totally different situation. I've done fairly well against him in the past.''

So far this year it's one apiece between Djokovic and Federer, the former winning their last final at Indian Wells to make amends for Federer's win in Dubai.

Career-wise, Federer holds the advantage with 20 wins to Djokovic's 18.

The only truly worrisome moment for him came midway through the first set when his feet got stuck in a hole on the court that gave Djokovic and Sharapova trouble earlier in the day. Federer was wrong-footed when Wawrinka hit behind him and couldn't turn around.

Workers came onto the court during the middle of the game to smooth the clay over.

"The problem is, it kind of breaks away, so that's not ideal. When it happens once or twice, three times, you get a bit worried," said Federer.

"I don't think it's going to be an issue tomorrow it's the end of the tournament now and they'll do everything they can. It's clearly not ideal and I hope they can fix it to some extent for tomorrow."

Date: 16th May 2015, Source: AP, ATP and AFP


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