Federer v Nadal in Rome

  • Last Updated: May 18 2013, 21:56 BST

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will re-ignite their famous rivalry once more in the final of the Internazionali d'Italia on Sunday after both came through their last four clashes in Rome.

Federer: Faces Nadal in final
Federer: Faces Nadal in final

The pair have won 28 grand slam titles between themselves and have met 29 times during the years, with Nadal leading the head to head 19-10, which includes a 6-4 6-2 victory when they last faced off in Indian Wells earlier this year.

Tomorrow's meeting will be their first encounter in a final since the 2011 French Open, an encounter Nadal also won.

The Spaniard today continued his dominance over Tomas Berdych, who dumped out world number one Novak Djokovic in the last round, to reach his eighth final in a row since making a comeback from a seven-month injury lay-off in February.

Nadal had been taken to three sets in his last two matches against Latvia's Ernests Gulbis and compatriot David Ferrer respectively, but he easily outgunned Berdych 6-2 6-4.

Berdych marvellously hit back from 6-2 5-2 down against Djokovic in their quarter-final yesterday, but could not get into his stride as he slipped to his 13th consecutive loss against Nadal.

"I played at a high level and everything went well with no mistakes. I was dominating the points and following to the net. I think I played one of my best matches since I am came back," Nadal told the ATP Tour website.

"Eight finals in a row is wonderful. Four to five months ago it was impossible to think about this. I hope to play very well. Any result will be fantastic."

Federer had a rather more difficult encounter against this week's surprise package Benoit Paire before coming through 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.

The world number 36 had the 17-time major winner in trouble on multiple occasions, first breaking for a 4-3 lead in the first set and then holding a mini-break lead in the tie-break on three occasions.

Federer hit back each time, though, and went on to claim the decisive break in the third game of the second set. He then managed to save two break points in the sixth game to wrap up victory in an hour and 28 minutes.

The Swiss has been beaten on 12 of 14 occasions on clay against Nadal, with the left-hander also winning their only meeting in this competition seven years ago by triumphing in five hours and five minutes - their longest encounter.

Serena Williams will be gunning for her fourth successive title when she takes on Victoria Azarenka in the women's final.

Williams breezed past Romanian qualifier Simona Halep 6-3 6-0 in a little over an hour for her 23rd consecutive win on the WTA Tour - a run that has seen her win titles in Miami, Charleston and Madrid in recent weeks.

The world number one will be a firm favourite against Azarenka, who was a 6-0 7-5 winner against Italian seventh seed Sara Errani.

Williams has won 11 of her 13 matches against the third-seeded Azarenka and has only lost one of her past 33 matches on clay, her only defeat coming against Virginie Razzano at the French Open last year.

"I don't know if I feel better on clay this year or last year," Williams told the WTA Tour website. "I felt great last year and I feel great this year too. I love clay and have done well on it, even at Roland Garros."

The American is the heavy favourite to triumph in Paris when the French Open gets under way in a little over a week's time but victory over Azarenka would send a statement to her rivals.

Belorussian Azarenka can take a crumb of comfort from the fact she defeated Williams when the pair last met in Doha earlier this year, but she was given a stern test by Errani today.

While the 23-year-old dropped just seven points in the first set, Errani stormed back and nearly took the match to a decider as she served to level proceedings at 5-4 before Azarenka closed out the match.

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