Rafael Nadal played his 500th match on clay and marked the occasion with a 6-4, 6-4 defeat of giant American Reilly Opelka on Saturday to reach a 12th Rome Masters final.
The Spanish king of clay is now one win away from a record 10th title at the Foro Italico but needs to wait to discover his Sunday opponent from top seed and five-time winner Novak Djokovic or Italian outsider Lorenzo Sonego.
Nadal beat the 2.11-meter Opelka in 92 minutes, never losing serve and polishing his record against US players on clay to 18-0.
Second seed Nadal will compete in his 12th Rome final and 52nd at the Masters 1000 level.
“I did what I had to do today, it was not a beautiful match to watch, he gives you no rhythm,” the winner said.
“You have just a few options on return also.
“But I’m into the final, the work is done. i did a lot of things well, I’ve been in good spirits all week
“Things have been positive on court. It’s important to be confident for such a bi final.”
Nadal neared his last Masters trophy in Canada,2019.
The 35-year-old had 13 winners and 10 unforced errors while holding his 23-year-old opponent to just 11 aces.
Nadal won his 458th match on his surface of choice stands as he bids for a 62nd clay trophy.
“I will have a tough opponent in the final,” he said. “I need to be ready to play my best tennis.
“I’ve been going day by day, I need to find a way to keep winning matches.”
Main photo:- Rafa Nadal winning his 500th match on clay – by ATPTour.com