Paris - Eight-time champion Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who needs a
Roland Garros title to complete a career Grand Slam, will clash in
Sunday's French Open final after racking up convincing semi-final wins
World number one Nadal cruised to a 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 win
against Wimbledon champion and seventh seed Andy Murray to register his
65th win on the red clay of Paris against just one defeat as he moved
one victory away from becoming the first man to win five successive
Sunday will be the 28-year-old Spaniard's 20th Grand Slam final.
the world number two and runner-up to Nadal in the 2012 championship
match, went through to his 13th major final thanks to a 6-3, 6-3, 3-6,
6-3 win over Latvian giantkiller Ernests Gulbis.
could wrap up a 14th Grand Slam title which would put him level at
second best on the all-time list with Pete Sampras and three behind
Roger Federer while Djokovic will be chasing his seventh major.
failed in his bid to become the first British player to contest the
French Open final since Bunny Austin 77 years ago and will now turn his
attention to defending his Wimbledon crown.
It was his worst loss
to Nadal in nine Grand Slam match-ups between the two, surpassing the
nine games he managed in the 2008 Wimbledon quarter-finals.
"I think that today I played my best tennis at Roland Garros this year," said Nadal.
10 years of coming here and to be back in the final for the ninth time -
it's something I never believed would happen in my life."
of his 42nd meeting with Djokovic, he added: "He is an unbelievable
opponent. He is always a big challenge and I need to play at my very
Nadal had dropped the first set to Murray in the
semi-finals in Rome last month before winning through, but Friday was
brutally one-sided in sweltering heat in Paris with the Spaniard winning
almost half the points played.Djokovic, 27, will become only the eighth man in history to complete the career Grand Slam if he wins on Sunday.
defeated Nadal in the Rome final and has won their last four
However, Nadal leads 13-4 overall on clay as well as 22-19
on all surfaces.
"The first two sets went well. I thought I played
well, very solid, putting a lot of returns back in the court, serving
at the high percentage," said Djokovic.
"Then suddenly midway
through the third set I started to feel physically fatigued a little
bit, and you could feel that. You could see that both me and him, we
struggled on the court."
He added: "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.
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.
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."