- Associated Press - Friday, June 3, 2011

PARIS — Rafael Nadal is still the “King of Clay” at the French Open, and he will be for at least another couple of days after beating Andy Murray 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 Friday to reach his sixth final in seven years at Roland Garros.

The top-ranked Spaniard wasn’t perfect against Murray, struggling at times with his serve and getting broken three times, but his play was consistent enough to take care of his opponent’s defensive tactics.

“The conditions today were not easy,” said Nadal, who saved all six break points he faced in the third set. “Very, very difficult with the wind changing a lot.”

Nadal will face either 16-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic in the final. Federer and Djokovic, who is unbeaten in 2011, were to play in the other semifinal later Friday.

“For me it’s a dream to be back in the final,” Nadal said. “Both opponents will be very, very, very difficult for me and for everybody.”

On Saturday, defending champion Francesca Schiavone will face Li Na in the women’s final.

Nadal celebrated his 25th birthday on Court Philippe Chatrier with yet another victory, improving his record on the clay in Paris to 44-1. With another victory in Sunday’s final, he would equal Bjorn Borg’s record of six French Open titles.

Against Murray, he certainly looked like the best player in the world.

Nadal broke Murray early in each of the three sets. And although he lost his serve once in the first and twice in the second, Nadal always looked in charge — even helping the court crew by frequently cleaning the clay off his baseline by dragging his foot along the white paint.

When the big points were played, it was Nadal that often came out on top.

He saved 15 of 18 break points and converted six of the 13 he earned. After saving the second of two break points in the second game of the second set, Nadal let out a primal “Vamos!” or “Come on!”

“I had a lot of break point opportunities. Rafa played well on a lot of them,” Murray said. “He served well and was able to dictate a lot of the points with his forehand.”

The wind was swirling on court yet again, at one point forcing Murray to turn around to avoid the floating red dust from getting into his eyes. A few games later, while Murray was serving in the second set, a spectator’s Panama hat blew onto the clay court.

A ball boy quickly retrieved the offending chapeau, and Nadal then claimed his second break point of the game when Murray sent a backhand wide.

Three points later, Nadal broke for a 6-5 lead with a forehand winner.

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