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Japan pair into doubles final

Kyodo, AP

Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya on Friday advanced to the women’s doubles final at the French Open with a straight-sets semifinal win over No. 8 seeds Chan Hao-ching of Taiwan and Yang Zhaoxuan of China.

The unseeded duo took 1 hour, 3 minutes to complete the 6-2, 6-2 victory on the Suzanne-Lenglen Court at Roland Garros.

Hozumi and Ninomiya, both 24, are the first Japanese pair ever to make the women’s doubles final at a Grand Slam event.

They reached the semifinals by upsetting No. 1 seeds Timea Babos of Hungary and Kristina Mladenovic of France 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

In other action, Rafael Nadal had cast aside three break points in his semifinal’s third game when, at 4-4, Juan Martin del Potro held another three.

If Nadal’s march toward an 11th championship at Roland Garros was going to be stopped on this day, things were going to have to go del Potro’s way right then. Both men knew that full well.

“That,” del Potro would say later, “was my chance.”

Ah, but there’s a reason Nadal is 11-0 in semifinals at the French Open, a reason he is 10-0 in finals there — so far. He doesn’t cede a thing and he doesn’t let up.

Nadal saved that second trio of break points Friday, held there, then broke in the next game to grab that set. It was part of a run in which he claimed 14 of the last 17 games to overwhelm the No. 5-seeded del Potro 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 and earn yet another spot in the title match at Court Philippe Chatrier.

In Sunday’s final, Nadal will face No. 7 Dominic Thiem, a 24-year-old from Austria, who defeated ranked Marco Cecchinato of Italy 7-5, 7-6 (12-10), 6-1 in their semifinal.