Roger Federer will renew his rivalry with Novak Djokovic in the Italian Open final on Sunday, giving the 17-time Grand Slam champion another chance to add an elusive title to his collection.
Federer dispatched Swiss countryman Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-2 in less than an hour in the semifinals on Saturday, while the top-ranked Djokovic delivered his best performance of the week, downing David Ferrer 6-4, 6-4.
Along with Monte Carlo, Rome is one of only two Masters series titles that Federer has never won.
“I just like winning a title. Now OK, this is Rome, and it's one I've never won so you might think it's extra special but for some reason it's not for me,” Federer said.
In women's action, Maria Sharapova reached the final by overpowering qualifier Daria Gavrilova 7-5, 6-3 in an all-Russian matchup.
Sharapova will play for her third Rome title against Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, who fought through her nerves and rallied past second-seeded Simona Halep 2-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Federer fell behind 3-0 at the start of the evening match but then won three straight games, broke to take a 5-4 lead, and rolled on.
Djokovic lost a set in each of his three previous matches this week, looking rusty from three weeks off. But he was solid from the start against Ferrer, using one break in each set to take control and extend his winning streak to 21 matches.
Seeking his third Rome title, and second straight, Djokovic will take a 20-18 edge in the career series with Federer into the final. They split their two meetings this year, both on hard courts.
Sharapova hit 27 winners to Gavrilova's 10 and recovered a break early in the second set.
Aiming for her second career title, Suarez Navarro improved to 4-0 in her career against Halep on clay.