Paris, France (SportsNetwork.com) - It will be the clash of the titans in Sunday's men's French Open final, as world No. 1 Rafael Nadal and second- ranked Novak Djokovic will lock horns in the title tilt for the second time in three years.
Friday's semifinals at Stade Roland Garros saw the eight-time champion Nadal paste seventh-seeded Wimbledon winner Andy Murray, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1, and the former No. 1 and 2012 French runner-up Djokovic book a spot in his second final here with a 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory over 18th-seeded Latvian Ernests Gulbis amid hot and dry conditions on Court Chatrier.
The 28-year-old Nadal has dropped just one set en route to his record ninth French Open final, while Djokovic has dropped just two sets in reaching his 13th career Grand Slam final (6-6). No man has appeared in more Grand Slam finals at one event than Nadal has here in Paris.
In Friday's second semi, Nadal put on a clinic in dismantling a struggling Murray in a brisk 95 minutes, as the Spanish great tallied five service breaks while an overmatched Murray settled for zero.
Nadal will appear in his 20th Grand Slam final, as he trails only Roger Federer (21) for the men's record.
The 27-year-old two-time Grand Slam champion Murray was appearing in his second French Open semi, losing now to Nadal on both occasions. He missed the event last year due to injury.
Nadal and the Scottish Murray met for a 20th time on the ATP World Tour, with the mighty Spaniard now leading their all-time series, 15-5, including a flawless 6-0 record on clay.
Nadal is a remarkable 65-1 lifetime at the French Open, with his only loss coming against Robin Soderling in the fourth round in 2009, and has won his last 34 matches here.
The 13-time Grand Slam winner captured a fourth straight French Open title last year by besting David Ferrer in an all-Spanish finale. The amazing Spaniard is trying to become the first man to capture five straight French Open championships.
Meanwhile, the Serbian star Djokovic cruised through the first two sets on Day 13, but Gulbis took advantage of a weakened Djokovic in the third, as the Serb started to struggle physically and even admitted to that after the match. The frustrated star even smashed his racquet at one point, breaking the frame on the court in the process.
But Djokovic righted the ship in the fourth set, as he got a key break to grab a 5-3 lead and consolidated the break with a hold in the next game to move on.
Djokovic prevailed in 2 hours, 34 minutes by breaking Gulbis five times, compared to only two breaks for the Latvian loser. Gulbis swatted 13 aces, but also had 19 more unforced errors (44-25).
The 25-year-old Gulbis was playing in his first-ever major semi.
Djokovic, who was performing in his sixth French Open semifinal (2-4), is now 5-1 in his career versus Gulbis and currently riding an 11-match overall winning streak, including a recent clay court championship in Rome.
Gulbis was riding a nine-match winning streak, including a title in Nice, France, two weeks ago. He had been 13-0 on French soil for the year, including an earlier title, in Marseille.
Gulbis had not lost to a seeded player at a Grand Slam event since the 2010 Australian Open, compiling a 5-0 mark prior to Friday.
"It was a struggle out there," said Gulbis, who appeared to be nursing a back injury on Friday. "I felt maybe throughout the match I hit five really clean shots, from either side, backhand or forehand. Even serve."
On Sunday, Nadal and Djokovic will meet for a 42nd time, with the Spaniard leading their all-time series, 22-19. Their great rivalry is the only one to take place in all four Grand Slam finals.
Djokovic is 12-9 in their overall tour finals, including 3-3 in Grand Slam championship matches. Nadal, however, is a perfect 5-0 versus Djokovic overall at Roland Garros.
Djokovic has beaten Nadal the last four times they've played, including a final on clay in Rome just last month.
Nadal is 13-6 in his career Grand Slam finals, including a loss at this year's Aussie Open. He's now secured final berths in three straight and four of the last five major events and a win on Sunday would tie him with Pete Sampras for the second place on the men's all-time Grand Slam champions list.
The 27-year-old six-time major champion Djokovic was the French Open runner- up to Nadal two years ago and still needs this title to complete a career Grand Slam, which has been achieved by seven men, including Nadal. If Djokovic wins the championship on Sunday he would also reclaim the world No. 1 ranking, supplanting Nadal.
Nadal is 63-28 in his career ATP finals, including 3-3 this season, while Djokovic is 44-21 in his career finals, including 3-0 this year.
The 2014 men's French Open champion will claim $2.245 million.