Rome: Five-time champion Rafael Nadal struggled with his backhand but overcame a difficult first set to beat fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 7-6 (6), 6-0 on Saturday to reach the Italian Open final.
Nadal's opponent on Sunday will be the winner of the match between his two main rivals — top-ranked Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.
With Ferrer picking on his backhand and winning most of the long rallies early on, Nadal needed to save seven break points to hold his opening service game.
The first set was decided by just two key points. Early on in the tiebreaker, Ferrer was up a mini-break and in control of a point when he attempted a drop shot that landed in the net. Nadal regrouped and took control when he ran down a difficult half volley from Ferrer.
Of Nadal's 20 unforced errors in the first, 15 were backhands. It was his 11th consecutive win on clay against Ferrer.