Novak Djokovic will meet Rafael Nadal for the third straight year in a bid to complete a career Grand Slam titles in Paris on Sunday.
The top seed overcame Ernest Gulbis 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to set up a replay of last year’s semi-final clash with the Spaniard, who beat Andy Murray 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 later on Friday.
The number two has won Nadal in two finals already this season and could reclaim the ATP top spot if he wins.
The Serb will become the eighth man in history to win the career Grand Slam, having won Australian, the US and Wimbledon titles.
Nadal’s semi-final win over Murray made him the first man in the Open era to make nine appearances in the final of one Grand Slam, surpassing the record jointly held by Ivan Lendl, Pete Sampras (both eight US Open finals) and Roger Federer (eight Wimbledon final).
“He (Djokovic) is an unbelievable opponent, it’s going to be a big challenge and I will have to be at my best to beat him. He will be full of confidence after winning in Rome but I think I am getting better day by day. I played some good stuff today so hopefully I can do that again,” The Spaniard, speaking to ITV4, said on SUnday’s final against Djokovic.
Djokovic on his own part becomes the sixth man in the Open era to make multiple finals at each Grand Slam, along with Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, Ivan Lendl and Ken Rosewall.
On Friday, Djokovic eased through the first two sets against Latvian Gulbis, but the heat took its toll in the third set, as he had to fend off break points in the second and sixth games before succumbing in the eighth when Gulbis fired a backhand winner down the line.
A back issue slowed Gulbis’ progress in a slow fourth set. Having moved 2-0 up, Djokovic handed the advantage back to his hard-fighting opponent, but every hope of a deciding set evaporated in game eighth.
From 30-0, Gulbis double-faulted and two more errors meant Djokovic was serving for the match. The Serb had to do little more than get the ball in play, with Gulbis firing a tired forehand into the net on match point.
“The first two sets were very good for me and thenhe started to play with fewer errors,” said Djokovic.
“It was very difficult to maintain my concentration because the conditions were difficult for me, but I’m very happy to have made it into the final.”