Paris - Novak Djokovic has reached his 13th Grand Slam final and second at the French Open on Friday, bringing to an end giantkiller Ernests Gulbis's colourful Paris campaign.
The world number two triumphed 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 and will face
either top seed and eight-time champion Rafael Nadal, who beat him in
the 2012 final, or Britain's Andy Murray for the title.
Victory on Sunday would make Djokovic only the eighth man in history to complete the career Grand Slam.
played really well in the first two sets with great concentration, but
the hot conditions were very tough for both of us," said six-time major
"I am always motivated to play well at Roland
Garros. I need to push my body to the maximum as it's hard to predict
what will happen."
Playing in his 22nd semi-final at a major
compared to a debut appearance for Gulbis, the Serb was hardly troubled
in the first two sets on a sweltering afternoon in the French capital.
Gulbis, the 18th seed who defeated 17-time major winner Roger Federer
and sixth seed Tomas Berdych to get to his first Grand Slam semi-final,
rallied in the third to briefly breathe life into the contest.
the end, however, Gulbis's 44 unforced errors to Djokovic's 25, as well
as his ability to convert just two of his seven break points proved
"The difference was I'm not used to playing these kind of big matches," said the 25-year-old from Riga.
just normal I felt extra nervous and extra tense. I can take one
positive side out of the match -- that I could still win a third set
feeling that nervous and that extra tired."
Gulbis was made to
regret squandering break points in the fourth game of the first set as
Djokovic pounced in the next and claimed the opener on a third set point
in the ninth game.
The crucial point summed up the 41-minute set
as the Serb illustrated why he is regarded as the game's best returner,
his early backhand putting Gulbis on the back foot and off balance with
the Latvian unable to regain his poise.
Gulbis fired twice as many unforced errors in the opener, the heat and bright conditions making the ball fly.
by a host of former champions including Bjorn Borg and Gustavo Kuerten,
Gulbis hit a lazy backhand long and was broken to trail 3-4 in the
Djokovic claimed a double break and the second set in
the ninth game as Gulbis's afternoon went from bad to worse with his
error count moving to 28 against 12.
The more experienced and far
steadier Djokovic saved a break point again in the second game of the
third set and two more in the sixth.
But Gulbis, buoyed by a run
of form that many in the sport thought was beyond this son of one of
Latvia's richest men, finally broke at the sixth attempt for 5-3 and
secured the third set with his 11th ace, fired down the 'T' at 210km/h.
Suddenly, the semi-final burst into life.
broke to lead 2-0 in the fourth set but handed it back in the third
game, a lapse which prompted a racquet smash into the Paris dirt
followed by a code violation.
But he regained his composure with
what proved to be the critical break in the eighth game of the set and
when a fatigued Gulbis failed to get any serious purchase on a raking
Djokovic forehand the contest was over.