4 Jun 2015

Rafa's Roland Garros run over

5:48 am on 4 June 2015

The tennis world number one Novak Djokovic has ended defending champion Rafael Nadal's five-year rule of Roland Garros to reach the French Open semi-finals and edge ever closer to a coveted career grand slam.

The tennis world number one Novak Djokovic at the 2015 French Open.

The tennis world number one Novak Djokovic at the 2015 French Open. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The world number one avenged six previous defeats at the hands of Nadal in Paris with a clinical 7-5 6-3 6-1 quarter-final win over the nine-times champion.

The straight-sets loss, coming on the Spaniard's 29th birthday, was Nadal's first in the French capital since 2009 - and only his second ever in 72 matches since triumphing as a teenager back in 2005.

Djokovic's reward for joining Swede Robin Soderling as the only two men to have conquered the undisputed King of Clay at Roland Garros is a last-four meeting with Scottish third seed Andy Murray who beat Spain's seventh-seeded former finalist David Ferrer in 4 sets.

Today's showdown was Djokovic and Nadal's 13th at a grand slam, setting a new record for most meetings between two men at the majors.

It was also their record 44th duel, but their earliest at a slam since their very first encounter at the 2006 French Open.

As a contest, it never quite lived up to the pre-match hype as Djokovic buried Nadal in two hours and 26 minutes.

But the high-stakes quarter-final certainly featured all the tension and drama of a championship encounter.

Chasing a 27th straight win in an utterly dominant 2015, Djokovic made an early statement, firing a scorching off-forehand winner to break Nadal's very first service game.

Djokovic's victory was his first over Nadal at a major since needing almost six hours to put the 14-times grand slam champion away in their epic 2012 Australian Open final in Melbourne.

Nadal had denied Djokovic in the 2012 and 2014 finals in Paris and in the semis in 2007, 2008 and 2013 after stopping the Serb at the last-eight stage in 2006.

But after crushing Nadal's hopes of an extraordinary 10th title, Djokovic is now two tantalising wins away from joining the Spaniard and Roger Federer, Andre Agassi and Rod Laver as only the fifth man in the 47-year open era to hoist all four grand slam singles trophies.

Djokovic or Murray will face either Swiss eighth seed Stan Wawrinka or great French hope, 14th Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final.

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