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Nadal Crushes Surprise Rival Schuettler in Wimbledon Semi-Final

German tennis player Rainer Schuettler, after surprisingly reaching the Wimbledon semi-final against Rafael Nadal on Friday, had his hopes cut short -- quickly and brutally.

Spain's Rafael Nadal

Nadal gives in to his emotions

Nadal faltered only briefly as he lost serve in the second set before flattening Rainer Schuettler 6-1, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4.

"I'm very happy to be in the final for another time," said Nadal. "Wimbledon is a good event for me. If I'm to have a chance I have to play my best tennis."

Nadal blasted through the first set in just 23 minutes, committing a single unforced error.

But the four-time French Open winner temporarily lost some focus, due perhaps to his lack of confidence in his footing. Schuettler, 32, found himself leading 3-1 in the second set before the second seed closed the gap and re-stabilized his game.

"The court was slippery and I didn't feel very comfortable with the movement. I'll change shoes for the final," said Nadal, who fell at one point and bloodied his left knee.

"Maybe today was not my best match at this Wimbledon," said Nadal. "But I won in three sets and it's very important."

Brief vision of past German glory

Rainer Schuettler, german tennis player

Schuettler's entry into the semi-finals revived a flicker of hope in Germany

Schuettler, a fomer world number five, was as surprised as everyone else when he made it to the Wimbledon semi-final, briefly reviving dreams of Germany's past tennis glory.

It has been over 17 years since a German faced the final hurdle in the men's singles tournament at the All England Club and that was the double-header between Michael Stich and Boris Becker. The last German appearance in a final at Wimbledon was Steffi Graf's defeat to Lindsay Davenport in 1999.

Schuettler, the oldest player in the tournament, already added his name to the record books this week by playing in the second longest match in Wimbledon history.

His grueling five-set, quarter-final encounter against Frenchman Arnaud Clement took five hours and 12 minutes to complete. It began on Wednesday evening and eventually ended with Schuettler's tie-break match point on Thursday.

Big ticket final

Nadal now meets Roger Federer in their third straight final. Federer crushed resurgent Russian Marat Safin with a flawless, gold-standard display 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4.

Federer won his 65th straight match on grass after last losing on the surface in 2002. He has been victorious in his last 40 contests at Wimbledon, lifting five titles.

He will be appearing in his sixth straight final at the All England club.

"It was a perfect match for me," said Federer, who stands just two Grand Slam titles away from leveling the all-time best of 14 set by Pete Sampras.

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