PARIS - Novak Djokovic reached his 13th grand slam final and second at the French Open yesterday, bringing to an end the colourful Paris campaign of giant killer Ernests Gulbis.
The world number two triumphed 6-3 6-3 3-6 6-3 and will play for the title against either top seed and eight-time champion Rafael Nadal, who beat him in the 2012 final, or Britain's Andy Murray.
Victory on Sunday would make Djokovic only the eighth man in history to complete the career grand slam.
Playing in his 22nd semi-final at a major compared to a debut appearance for Gulbis, the Serb was hardly troubled in the first two sets on a sweltering afternoon in the French capital.
But Gulbis, the 18th seed who defeated 17-time major winner Roger Federer and sixth seed Tomas Berdych to get to his first grand slam semi-final, rallied in the third to briefly breathe life into the contest.
In the end, Gulbis's 44 unforced errors to Djokovic's 25, as well as his ability to convert just two of his seven break points proved crucial.
The crucial point summed up the 41-minute set as the Serb illustrated why he is regarded as the game's best returner, his early backhand putting Gulbis on the back foot and off balance with the Latvian unable to regain his poise.
Djokovic claimed a double break and the second set and saved a break point again in the second game of the third set and two more in the sixth.
But Gulbis, buoyed by a run of form that finally broke at the sixth attempt for 5-3 and secured the third set with his 11th ace, fired down the 'T' at 210km/h.
Djokovic broke to lead 2-0 in the fourth set but handed it back in the third game.
But he regained his composure with what proved to be the critical break in the eighth game of the set and when a fatigued Gulbis failed to get any serious purchase on a raking Djokovic forehand the contest was over.