Djokovic sets up another tilt at career slam in Paris

Fri Jun 6, 2014 1:32pm EDT
 
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By Alison Williams

PARIS (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic eventually wore down mercurial Latvian Ernests Gulbis on Friday to reach the French Open final but only after a dip in form that could be punished when he takes on Rafa Nadal for the only title to elude him.

The Serbian world No.2 was cruising at two sets ahead but his level dropped suddenly allowing Gulbis to make a real match of it before he managed to finish the job 6-3 6-3 3-6 6-3.

Djokovic was overpowered by Gulbis in the third set and seemed to be lacking energy in the heat but some errors by his opponent in the fourth spared him being dragged into a decider.

"Suddenly, midway through the third set (I) started to feel physically fatigued a little bit ... You could see that both me and him, we struggled on the court," Djokovic told reporters.

"I'm glad I won in four sets, because if it went to a fifth, God knows in which direction the match could go."

Djokovic will have to draw deeper on his stamina, belief and weapons on Sunday when he meets Nadal who is looking for his ninth title on the Paris clay and sent Wimbledon champion Andy Murray home for the loss of six games in their semi-final.

Nadal is trying to become the first man to win five consecutive Roland Garros singles crowns. Djokovic is looking to make his own history by becoming only the eighth man to win a career grand slam - something Nadal notched up in 2010.

"Of course pressure is there. Expectations are there. They are always present when you are playing on this level," said Djokovic, who will regain the world number one spot if he beats the Spaniard who defeated him in the French final in 2012.   Continued...

 
Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts during his men's semi-final match against Ernests Gulbis of Latvia at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris June 6, 2014. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier