Nadal ends Melzer's march
Four-time champion seals Roland Garros rematch with Soderling
Rafael Nadal has reached his fifth French Open final after seeing off Jurgen Melzer in straight sets to set up a mouth-watering clash against Robin Soderling on Sunday.
The four-time Roland Garros champion saw his unbeaten record in Paris ended by the Swede in the fourth round of last year's tournament, but the Spanish second seed has the chance to exact revenge after dashing Melzer's grand slam dreams with a 6-2 6-3 7-6 win on Court Philippe Chatrier.
"Playing on this court is amazing so I'm happy to be in this final, said Nadal.
"I want to congratulate Jurgen because he had a great tournament, beating two top players, so I want to wish him the best for the rest of the year."
Of his next opponent, the recently-turned 24-year-old added: "Soderling is playing really well. I will go on court and do my best and if he beats me I will congratulate him.
"For sure, it will be a difficult match."
Melzer, the first Austrian since Thomas Muster in 1995 to reach the last four, came back from losing the first two sets to defeat world number three Novak Djokovic in his quarter-final.
But there was to be no repeat of that miracle victory against fellow left-hander Nadal, who has the added incentive of reclaiming the world number one spot from Federer if he wins the Coupe des Mousquetaires.
Nadal cruised through the first set in just 29 minutes with breaks in the sixth game, courtesy of a Melzer double fault, and the eighth when the Spaniard unleashed a rapier, cross-court backhand.
Melzer, playing in his 29th grand slam, continued to struggle against the classy Nadal, who quickly broke in the fourth game of the second set to lead 3-1 before immediately surrendering his own serve.
It did not remain on serve for long though, as Nadal typically charged back for a 5-2 lead before play was briefly interrupted when a spectator fainted in the 28-degree heat.
But there was no halting the Nadal assault as the former champion went on to take the second set 6-3.
Nadal broke to love in the first game of the third set with a succession of deep, razor-sharp groundstrokes which left Melzer breathless from the chase.
Melzer gallantly clung on and retrieved the break in the 10th game as Nadal served for the match.
The Austrian saved two match points in the tie-break, the second with a nerveless drop shot, but dumped a forehand into the net on the third.
Nadal, who has yet to drop a set en route to Sunday's showpiece, will now lock horns with fifth seed Soderling, who triumphed in an epic five setter against Tomas Berdych earlier on Friday.