Nadal and Djokovic set up Sunday scorcher

Fri Jun 6, 2014 2:53pm EDT
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By Pritha Sarkar

PARIS (Reuters) - The belated appearance of the blazing sun at what had been a cold and chilly French Open until Friday allowed Rafa Nadal to scorch past Andy Murray and set up a hotly-anticipated final with Novak Djokovic.

Murray's bid to become the first British man in 77 years to reach the Roland Garros showpiece wilted away in a 6-3 6-2 6-1 pasting by the world number one who now stands just one win away from lifting the Musketeers' Cup for a ninth time.

To do that he will need to beat his great Serbian rival, who showed Ernests Gulbis that a French Open final is no place for a tennis wild child as he beat the Latvian 6-3 6-3 3-6 6-3 to keep alive his dreams of completing a career grand slam.

While Djokovic spent some of his youth honing his world-beating tennis skills in a drained swimming pool in Belgrade, Gulbis, the son of one of Latvia's richest men, was busy enjoying the high life.

Djokovic's two-decade long dedication to his craft was clear for all to see on Friday as despite struggling with the heat late in the third set, he hung in there to finish off the match in four sets and spare his reddening coach Boris Becker from opening up a second bottle of sunblock.

"I'm glad I won in four sets because if it went to a fifth, God knows in which direction the match could go," the six-times grand slam champion said after beating his childhood friend.

"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."

Nowhere was that struggle more evident than in the fourth set because after Gulbis had broken back in the third game, Djokovic's anger boiled over.   Continued...

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after winning his men's semi-final match against Andy Murray of Britain at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris June 6, 2014.            REUTERS/Vincent Kessler