Nadal and Djokovic plan early celebrations

Paris: Champion Rafa Nadal hopes to celebrate his birthday by beating Andy Murray in the French Open semi-finals on Friday before Novak Djokovic bids to wrap up the world number one spot against Roger Federer.

The odds are on a Nadal versus Djokovic final but third seed Federer, holder of a record 16 grand slam titles, and fourth seed Murray, who has shown tremendous grit throughout the tournament, should be the toughest of opponents.

Djokovic is on a stunning 41-match winning streak since the start of the year and will match John McEnroe`s 1984 record and take over as world number one if he beats the Swiss, who has already lost three times to the Serb since January.

Taking the number one spot off Nadal for the first time would be a special moment for Djokovic but it will mean little if he falls to the Spaniard or Murray in Sunday`s final.

The Australian Open champion has not played in four days after quarter-final opponent Fabio Fognini pulled out injured before the match but he is not worried despite 2009 winner Federer looking in his best ever Roland Garros form.

"I`ve played a lot of tennis, so I don`t think rhythm-wise I`m going to be affected," Djokovic told the Tennis Channel.

Five-times champion Nadal celebrates his 25th birthday and having easily swept aside Robin Soderling, the only man to have beaten him on the Paris clay, he has found his verve again after a nervous start to his campaign.

Murray, who has overcome an ankle injury and five-set drama during the tournament in his typically scrappy but indomitable style, has lost all his three claycourt battles with Nadal but did take a set off the Spaniard in Monte Carlo in April.

Bureau Report

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