Rafael Nadal stayed true to form in his 39th career meeting with longtime rival Roger Federer, besting the Swiss icon in a blustery French Open semifinal 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
In doing so, the King of Clay advanced to his 12th career French Open final where he now awaits the victor of the second men's semifinal between world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 4 Dominic Thiem.
Despite gusts reaching 39 miles per hour, Nadal remained in his element. The 33-year-old connected on 81.8 percent of his first serves (72-of-88) and routinely owned Federer in the return game, winning 47.3 percent of his receiving points.
Federer recorded 25 winners to 34 unforced errors in the match, including 17 unforced errors in the first set.
Nadal's lead in the all-time head-to-head series versus Federer now stands at 24-15, including 14-2 on the Spaniard's preferred playing surface. It was the pair's first meeting since the 2017 Shanghai Masters. The two were initially slated to play earlier this year in the Indian Wells semifinal before Nadal withdrew, citing pain in his right knee.
Despite falling short of his bid for a second career French Open title, Federer's decision to return to Roland Garros for the first time since 2015 still proved fruitful. Having elected to skip clay season altogether in recent years, the 37-year-old showed little signs of rust early in the tournament, not dropping a set until his quarterfinal clash with fellow countryman Stan Wawrinka.