Nadal hails Federer as the greatest after blowing him away in Paris wind

Roger Federer was unable to prevent Rafael Nadal from moving a step closer to a 12th French Open title, but won his rival's praise.

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer embrace after their French Open semi-final   -  Getty Images

Rafael Nadal hailed Roger Federer as "the best player in history" after blowing his old rival away in the Paris wind to reach a 12th French Open final.

Federer felt the full force of the 11-time Roland Garros champion with Storm Miguel fast approaching on Friday.

Defending champion Nadal won 6-3 6-4 6-2 with winds of up to 130 kilometres per hour gusting on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Nadal had not beaten the 20-time grand slam winner for five years and, despite taking just two hours and 25 minutes to down the Swiss great, the second seed said it was by no means straightforward.

"It was a pleasure to play Roger. It was a high level all three sets, which was remarkable in this wind," Nadal said in his on-court interview after ending Federer's first French Open appearance for four years.

"He is the best player in history and it's been a great pleasure to play against Roger. It was difficult to play against Roger in those conditions. I'm really happy, I'm into the final of the most important final of my career."

Nadal will come up against either world number one Novak Djokovic or last year's runner-up Dominic Thiem in the decider. The Spaniard is three slam titles behind Federer's tally.

Hopeful of more Federer Paris battles

Nadal is hopeful he has not faced Federer for the last time at the French Open as the legendary duo are having too much success to consider retiring.

Asked whether it he thought it might be the last time they do battle in the French Open, Nadal replied: "No, no, it didn't even come to mind. It can always be the last time, indeed. But the logic of life incites us to think it's the last time and that we are coming ever closer to the last time. That's a logical reality, because years are going by.

"We all have our small problems. We all have our age, which is increasing. I hope that it was not the last time yet. And I believe that him and I appreciate such matches.

"We live them with particular emotion after all that we have shared on the court. And it's true that we are getting older, but at the same time, we are still in the semifinals of the French Open. So if we are here, we don't think about retiring."

Nadal, who will face either Novak Djokovic or Dominic Thiem in the final, also believes his incredible tally of French Open triumphs can be bettered.

The Spaniard added: "I'm certain that another player can do it in the future. But it's true that you need to have qualities, physical qualities, and a long enough career to do so.

"You need to have the possibility to play at least 11 French Opens to win 11 times. It's complicated. Will we see that again in the future? Yes, I hope so, because records are meant to be broken. And when you break a record, you promote our sport. That's always something positive."

(With inputs from Opta.)