Nestor advances to doubles final

Canada’s Daniel Nestor is back in the doubles final at the French Open.

PARIS — Canada’s Daniel Nestor is back in the doubles final at the French Open.

The Toronto native and partner Max Mirnyi defeated Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic and France’s Michael Llodra 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) on Thursday.

Nestor won the doubles in Paris a year ago alongside Zimonjic before the pair split at the end of 2010.

Nestor and Mirnyi will face Colombia’s Juan Sebastian Cabal and Argentina’s Eduardo Schwank in Saturday’s final after they upset top-seeded American twins Mike and Bob Bryan 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the other semi.

“It’s surprising for a Canadian to play so well on red clay,” said Nestor, who will be playing in his sixth final at Roland Garros. “I like playing here. For a guy who doesn’t move so well, the slower surface gives me more time to prepare my second shot.

“I hit my baseline shots here better than on other surfaces. The courts are playing fast this year. That along with the faster balls makes it better for us, even more so this year.”

The victory in one hour 45 minutes marks the first Grand Slam final for Nestor and his new partner.

“In the final, we have to play to win,” said Nestor. “Today we played it safe too much, we didn’t put them away. Hopefully we’ve got that out of the way now and we can relax and go for it.”

Nestor, the player with the most match victories on the ATP after winning his 800th in the first round last week, lifted the 2007 trophy with longtime partner Mark Knowles and lost final with Knowles in 1998, 2002 and 2008.

The Canadian’s second-seeded team fired four aces and committed four unforced errors against the No. 4 opposition while breaking Llodra twice.

The victory was only the second time Nestor has faced his former partner, with Zimonjic and Llodra winning a Madrid quarter-final last month.

The Nestor and Mirnyi jumped in front in the opening set with a break of Llodra on a passing shot for 4-3, but Mirnyi dropped serve in the tenth game to knot it 5-5.

In the tiebreaker, Nestor put over a smash for set point and then produced a winner for the early lead after 45 minutes.

The second went much the same as Llodra put his side in a 2-4 hole on a break, but quickly orchestrated a break-back of Mirnyi a game later.

Nestor had to battle in a monumental ninth game which went to seven deuces, saving four break points in a hold for 4-5. The decider went Nestor’s way, with a Llodra error eventually sending his opponents to the final.

“Llodra had three or four break points that he either missed or didn’t do much with,” said Nestor. “That was big and swung the match.

“We had been holding a 4-2 lead and Max played a poor game to give it back. If they had broken who knows what might have happened. We got energized form that game.”

The Bryans, meanwhile, were bidding for a second title at Roland Garros and an 11th Grand Slam overall. That would’ve equalled the Open era record set by Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde.

“We got a little careless,” Bob Bryan said, “and they made us pay for it.”