Tennis - Federer sets up Nadal final in Rome

Second seed Roger Federer booked a meeting with Rafael Nadal in the final of the Rome Masters after beating unseeded Frenchman Benoit Paire 7-6(5) 6-4 in the Italian capital.

Tennis - Federer sets up Nadal final in Rome

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Roger Federer - Internazionali d'Italia 2013 (Reuters)

Federer was pushed by Paire early on in the match but found another level in the tie-break and, once ahead by a set, never really looked in danger of being taken to a third.

Federer’s clash with Nadal in Sunday’s final will be the first meeting between the pair on clay since their epic final at Roland Garros two years ago.

Six-times former champion Nadal advanced to the championship match with a 6-2 6-4 victory over sixth seed Tomas Berdych.

Paire, playing in his first Masters series semi-finals, made a sensational start to the contestearning himself an immediate break point with a cross court forehand winner that landed right on the outside of the line.

Although the Frenchman could not quite take advantage of the chance, or a second a couple of points later, the threat was clear, Paire high on confidence after wins over higher ranked players Juan Monaco, Julien Benneteau and Juan Martin Del Potro heading into the last four.

Another break point followed in the fifth game but again the chance went begging for the Frenchman as Federer made a trip into the net and produced a smash winner.

Federer got his first chance at a break point in the sixth game but Paire posted a battling hold from 0-40 down before going on to make good on his early promise by sealing the first break of the match.

Immediately pegged back by Federer, Paire going to the drop shot on consecutive points without any success, the Frenchman then twice served to stay in the set and force the tie-break.

Again it was the Frenchman who went ahead first, a mini-break coming on the very first point before he was pegged back at the change of ends by a Federer forehand winner across court.

Paire came within two point of taking the first set when he snuck ahead again but a forehand long allowed Federer to level up at 5-5 before the second seed snatched the set at the first time of asking with a high forehand volley winner.

Federer further compounded the trouble for Paire by breaking early in the second set, the two-times former Rome finalist capitalising on back-to-back double faults from the Frenchman.

Paire did have the chance to get the break back when, in the sixth game, Federer slapped a poor forehand long of the baseline. Again, though, he could not take advantage of his opportunity and Federer went on to hold with an ace and an unreturnable first serve.

Although Paire showed his mettle in holding to 30 when serving to stay in the match, Federer had little difficulty in serving out the match, a forehand winner down the line off a shorter ball seeing Federer set up the Nadal clash after 89 minutes.

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