Nadal and Robin Soderling won semifinals Friday to set up a tantalizing rematch. Soderling pulled off a stunner when they met in the fourth round last year, and the upset remains Nadal's lone loss in 38 French Open matches.
"It's always good to have beaten a player before," Soderling said. "I know that I can beat him. I showed it. But every match is a new match, and every match is different."
Soderling, runner-up to Roger Federer in 2009, returned to the final by sweeping the last four games to overtake No. 15-seeded Tomas Berdych, 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3. Nadal then beat No. 22 Jurgen Melzer, 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (6).
The No. 2-seeded Nadal has won all 18 sets in this year's tournament, and he's 21-0 on clay in 2010. He seeks to become the second man to win at least five French Open titles. Bjorn Borg won six.
Should Nadal win, he'll reclaim the No. 1 ranking from Federer next week.
"Believe me, if I win on Sunday, it's going to be the last thing I think," Nadal said. "The important thing is the tournament."
Nadal is bidding for his seventh Grand Slam title. But Soderling's big serve and forehand make him dangerous, as he showed against Berdych.
"He's playing at an amazing level, very aggressive," Nadal said. "He's a very, very dangerous player. He's one of the best of the world. It will be a difficult match."
Temperatures in the low 80s made for fast court conditions in the men's semifinals, and the first match quickly developed into a slugfest between two of the hardest hitters in tennis, Soderling and Berdych. Most points were short, and rallies were usually restricted to big swings from the backcourt, with few slices, drop shots, lobs or volleys.
The No. 5-seeded Soderling hit 18 aces, 62 winners and 63 unforced errors. Berdych hit 21 aces, 42 winners and 41 unforced errors.