(June 6, 2014) No. 2 Novak Djokovic advanced to his second French Open final on Friday defeating 18th seed Ernests Gulbis 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. For the 27-year-old Djokovic it will be his 13th major tournament final appearance. Djokovic has won 6 Grand Slam titles and is hoping to complete a career Grand Slam, should he capture the Roland Garros title. Djokovic lost in the 2012 final to Rafael Nadal.
In the opening set in the third game, Djokovic dug out of 15-40 and saved two break points to hold for 2-2. The critical game in the first set came in the next game as Djokovic needed four break point chances, but broke the Latvian’s serve for 3-2. Djokovic went on to win the next three games to close out the first set 6-3.
In the second set, both men held to form until the eight game when a Gulbis double fault gave Djokovic a break point chance which he took for a 5-3 lead when Gulbis sent a forehand shot long. Djokovic took the set 6-3 on his third set point.
In the third set Djokovic saved break points in the second and sixth games, but in the eighth game, Gulbis, making his first appearance in a major semifinal, finally took advantage to take a 5-3 lead to serve for the set. During the set Gulbis appeared to be stretching his back as though it were bothering him. The 18th seed captured the third set with an ace to send the match into a fourth set.
Djokovic broke Gulbis’ serve to go up 2-0 but is broken back at 15 to get back on serve. In frustration, Djokovic broke his racquet.
The set stayed even until the eighth game, when the Serbian broke the Latvian’s serve to go up 5-3. Djokovic closed the match out on his serve 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
“First two sets went well,” Djokovic said. “I thought I played well, very solid, putting a lot of returns back in the court, serving at the high percentage.”
“Then suddenly midway through the third set 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.
“It happens, you know. It happens in the tournament, and important thing for me is that I realize what’s going on. It’s nothing serious. I’m going to have now two days of recovery and get ready for the final.”
“Difference in the match was, first of all, I’m not used to play these kind of big matches,” Gulbis said. “It’s 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, and I saw that he was feeling the same. So it’s not only me.
“That’s one thing what I take for the future. I take it out of this match. Was a good thing.”
Djokovic will play 8-time champion Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s final.
More to follow…