French Open

Djokovic ends Gulbis' run

2014-06-06 16:30
Novak Djokovic (AFP)

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.

"I 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 winner Djokovic.

"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.

But 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.

In 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 crucial.

"The difference was I'm not used to playing these kind of big matches," said the 25-year-old from Riga.

"It's 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.

Watched 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 second set.

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.

Djokovic 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.

Read more on:    atp tour  |  french open  |  novak djokovic  |  tennis
NEXT ON SPORT24X

Djokovic downs Kohlschreiber

2014-09-01 22:23

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Vote

Which is your favourite Grand Slam of the year?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Featured Blog

Dave ask if you would like to meet your local sports heroes and stand the chance to win prizes to the value of over R40 000.

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

Forum Have your Say on Sport24's brand new Forum!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.