Novak Djokovic is headed back to the French Open final.
The No. 2 seed Djokovic held on for a 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 semifinal victory over No. 18 Ernests Gulbis on Friday afternoon at Roland Garros, advancing to his first Grand Slam final of the season and his second career in Paris.
Djokovic will either face No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal—who has won eight French Open Championships and knocked off Djokovic in his lone final appearance in 2012—or No. 7 seed Andy Murray.
With two sets in the books, it appeared as if Djokovic was going to romp his way to final. He easily dispatched of Gulbis in the first two sets, breaking him when he had to and never really being challenged much in his own service games.
But Gulbis found something in the third set, breaking Djokovic for a 5-3 lead and closing it out on serve to force a fourth set.
Things appeared to be trending in Gulbis’ favor early in the fourth, but Djokovic, taking advantage of some ginger movements from Gulbis as a result of back troubles, broke his serve for an early 2-0 edge.
Gulbis, who was resilient but largely overmatched on this day, rallied back, breaking Djokovic on the next game to get back on serve, prompting the Serbian to smash his racket in disgust.
But his frustration would be short-lived.
Djokovic broke Gulbis’ last service game of the match for a 5-3 edge, and then closed out on serve against little resistance for a berth in Sunday’s final.
Djokovic is 19-22 career against Nadal, who also knocked him off in the semifinal last year at Roland Garros, and 12-8 against Murray.