Djokovic ends Gulbis' magical run at French

18:16, Jun 06 2014
Li Na
Li Na congratulates Kristina Mladenovic after the current Australian Open champion was ousted by the French youngster.
Lleyton Hewitt
Lleyton Hewitt reacts after losing a point during his first round loss to Argentine Carlos Berlocq at the French Open.
Facundo Bagnis
Argentina's Facundo Bagnis celebrates after defeating Frenchman Julien Benneteau in the first round.
Roland Garros
Court crew sweep water off the covers during a delay on day two at Roland Garros.
Roland Garros
The view of court one as Ivo Karlovic of Croatia plays Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray stretches for a backhand during his first round match against Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan.
Kristina Mladenovic
Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic serves during her victory over Li Na.
Stanislas Wawrinka
Stanislas Wawrinka picks out balls to serve during his first round loss at Roland Garros.
Dustin Brown of Germany returns a shot during his men's singles match against Marinko Matosevic of Australia on day three of the French Open.
Dustin Brown of Germany returns a shot during his men's singles match against Marinko Matosevic of Australia on day three of the French Open.
Sara Errani of Italy serves to Madison Keys of the U.S. during their women's singles match at the French Open.
Sara Errani of Italy serves to Madison Keys of the U.S. during their women's singles match at the French Open.
Ernsts Gulbis
Ernsts Gulbis focuses as he serves against Facundo Bagnis.
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova smashes a forehand shot against Tsvetana Pironkova in the third round.
Garbine Muguruza
Spain's Garbine Muguruza celebrates her upset victory over No 1 seed Serena Williams.
Jurgen Melzer
Austria's Jurgen Melzer stretches to hit a forehand against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrates his victory over Jurgen Melzer.
Roland Garros
Dark clouds hover over the Philippe Chatrier Court as Rafael Nadal plays Dominic Thiem.
Petra Kvitova
Fifth seed Petra Kvitova serves during her victory over Marina Erakovic.
Simona Halep
Romanian Simona Halep acknowledges the crowd after her victory over Heather Watson.
Ana Ivanovic
Ana Ivanovic adjusts her ponytail while playing Ukraine's Elina Svitolina.
Tsvetana Pironkova
Tsvetana Pironkova receives advice from a medical staffer during her loss to Maria Sharapova.
Roger Federer
Roger Federer stretches for a backhand during his four-set third-round victory over Russian Dmitry Tursunov.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic questions a line call during his four-setter against Croat Marin Cilic.
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova served up a 'double-bagel' to unseeded Argentine Paula Ormaechea.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga plays an overhead shot in the sunshine.
Roland Garros
Court crew drag out the covers as rain interrupts play during Maria Sharapova's match.
Pauline Parmentier
France's Pauline Parmentier rips a forehand during her tough three-set victory over Mona Barthel.
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova lost the first set 6-1, but responded to finish off Garbine Muguruza in three sets.
Eugenie Bouchard
Eugenie Bouchard plays a shot during her three sets quarterfinal victory.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic makes a forehand shot on the run against Milos Raonic.
Ernsts Gulbis
Ernsts Gulbis pumps his fist after defeating Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals.
Andrea Petkovic
Andrea Petkovic kisses her racquet after defeating Sara Errani in their French Open quarterfinal match.
Roland Garros
Spectators shelter under umbrellas as rain delayed the start of quarterfinals on Day 11.
Simona Halep
Simona Halep reacts after defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova to reach the semifinals.
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova plays a two-handed backhand on the run against Canada's Eugenie Bouchard.
Eugenie Bouchard
Eugenie Bouchard fell short of the final in a second straight grand slam.
Simona Halep
Simona Halep battled past Andrea Petkovic in two sets to face Maria Sharapova in the women's French Open final.
Andrea Petkovic
Andrea Petkovic missed a chance to capture the second set before losing in a tiebreak.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic overcame losing the third set to finish off Ernsts Gulbis in four sets to reach the French Open final.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic attempts to replace a letter on an advertising board after knocking it off with his racquet.
Ernsts Gulbis
Ernsts Gulbis in action during his men's semifinal against Novak Djokovic.
Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal has a shot at his ninth French Open crown against Novak Djokovic.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray was no match for Rafa Nadal in the French Open semifinals.
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova had to battle over three hours to overcome Simona Halep in the French Open final.
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova collapses to the clay after the championship-clinching point.
Simona Halep
Simona Halep reacts after taking the second set from Maria Sharapova in a tie-break.
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova with the Suzanne Lenglen Trophy after her second French Open triumph.
Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal has only been beaten once at the French Open in the last 10 years.
Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal with the French Open trophy at the Eiffel Tower.
Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal drops to his knees after winning his ninth French Open title.
Novak Djokovic
A frustrated Novak Djokovic could not overcome the 'King of Clay'.

Novak Djokovic eventually wore down mercurial Latvian Ernests Gulbis on Friday (local time) 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.

"But I'm trying to channel this energy into the right direction and not get carried away too much by the stress of the occasion.

"It is the finals of a grand slam that I never won. Of course I'm going to give my best to lift the trophy in two days. I'm going to have the ultimate challenge on clay across the net, Nadal."

STRONG SUN

There were brief flashes of their best from both players on Friday, but neither man set the Philippe Chatrier crowd alight on the hottest day of the tournament at 28 degrees Celsius.

"It was not a good quality tennis at all. It was just grinding and just trying to put the ball in. Not me, not he felt the ball good," Gulbis said, in a major semi-final for the first time after 27 attempts.

Djokovic, seeded two in Paris, displayed his customary ice cool efficiency in the first two sets, more consistent from the baseline and clinical when the chances arose in the pair's first match since 2011.

But moments of casual brilliance from 18th seed Gulbis stunned Djokovic in the third which the Latvian sealed with an ace after breaking the serve of his worried-looking opponent who was having to make rapid adjustments.

"We played for over 10 days of the tournament in overcast and a little bit heavier conditions. The ball wasn't bouncing as high as it did today," Djokovic said.

"And of course it was strong sun. That also affects the fatigue of the players.

"It was a lot of exchanges we had, a lot of long rallies. But at the end of the day, in the end of the match I managed to find a necessary rhythm."

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Reuters