With a couple of decisive victories on Friday, No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Novak Djokovic are set to face off in a thrilling conclusion of the 2014 French Open on Sunday.
Nadal became one step closer to successfully defending his title at Roland Garros, and Djokovic is now just one match victory away from finally completing his career Grand Slam.
Although Nadal is widely referred to as the King of Clay, it was Djokovic who got the best of him during their clash earlier this year at the ATP World Tour Masters in Rome.
This final showdown figures to be of epic proportions.
Before these two athletes take the court on Sunday, let's take a look at how they got there by analyzing their semifinal showdowns.
No. 2 Novak Djokovic def. No. 18 Ernests Gulbis; 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
Djokovic flourished on a big stage once again on Friday, defeating Gulbis in four sets.
TennisNow tweeted Djokovic's run at history:
On the hottest and driest day of the tournament, overcoming fatigue, making adjustments and finding a rhythm were all crucial elements for success.
It was the Serb who came through.
During a press conference, via Matt Trollope of RolandGarros.com, Djokovic spoke of his adjustments over the duration of the match:
It requires a little bit of an adjustment, because 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, so you had to adjust to that. 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.
After taking the first two sets due to a bevy of errors from a rattled Gulbis, Djokovic was suddenly tested.
Gulbis recovered nicely from his early flaws, hitting several backhand winners while fending off the world No. 2 for a 6-3 set victory.
In the final set, Djokovic became irritated, as he was having difficulty closing out the match. This led to a shattered racket and an unhappy crowd. Here's a look, courtesy of a tweet from NBC Sports Network:
Djokovic was able to overcome his anguish and regain his form, forcing Gulbis into more errors before serving to ultimately end the contest.
Now, Djokovic turns his attention to Nadal, according to a tweet from Roland Garros:
No. 1 Rafael Nadal def. No. 7 Andy Murray; 6-3, 6-2, 6-1
It was simply smooth sailing for Nadal on Friday.
The world No. 1 absolutely crushed Murray in straight sets on Friday and only seemed to get better as the match progressed.
The match only lasted an hour and 40 minutes, as Nadal earned a trip to the final and increased his winning streak at Roland Garros to 34.
David Law of LawSports tweeted his impression of Nadal's performance:
Nadal's serve was impeccable against Murray on Friday. He won an improbable 41-of-45 first-serve points against the No. 7 seed.
Between Nadal's dominating serves, forceful forehands and pinpoint accuracy, Murray stood little chance, as the result was 26 unforced errors over the match.
Murray reflected on this during an interview with RolandGarros.com:
Yeah, I mean, he played a great match. He missed hardly any balls. He served very well. I mean, his forehand, especially with the conditions the way they were today, was incredibly hard to control the ball. As soon as he was inside the court, I mean, he was hitting the ball so close to the line. Yeah, he played great tennis.
He certainly did.
As for Nadal, Sunday marks his ninth final at Roland Garros.
After this near-flawless victory against Murray on Friday, Nadal looks in top form and appears ready for his epic clash against Djokovic.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!