Novak Djokovic has looked mighty impressive in the French Open this year, looking well on course to clinch his first title at Roland Garros with every passing match. Come Friday, though, in the semifinals of the French Open, the Serbian will be up against a player at the peak of his powers in Ernests Gulbis and Djokovic will know nothing but the best will do if he is to move into the final.
Where to Watch Live:
The first men's singles semifinal is scheduled to start at 1 pm local time (4.30 pm IST). Live coverage in India will be on Neo Prime and Neo Sports. International viewers, including India, can catch the action via live streaming HERE or HERE. Listen to the big match HERE. The semifinal can be live streamed by US viewers HERE or HERE, while South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa viewers can catch the action HERE. Viewers in the UK can live stream the match HERE.
Djokovic has not been really put to the test at the French Open this year, with only Marin Cilic, in the third round managing to take a set off the Serbian. Djokovic was unstoppable in the fourth round against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, dispatching the Frenchman with stunning ease, while the 27-year-old was too much to handle for Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals as well.
But in Gulbis, Djokovic will be up against a player in terrific form, and probably playing the best tennis of his career.
"He was always very talented," said Djokovic, who knows Gulbis from the time they trained together at Niki Pilic's academy in Germany as kids. "I remember he came out in the practices swinging fully through the ball. He always had this confidence about him that you could say that even though he was 14, 15 at the time that he was going to become something big."
Gulbis, when he was a youngster, was tipped to make the big step and mix it with the big boys; that however, never quite happened with discipline and injuries coming in the way. This year, especially at the French Open, though, Gulbis has looked like the real deal, stopping Roger Federer in the fourth round, before breezing past Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals.
Despite Gulbis' form however, Djokovic, will still be as tough a nut to crack as there is, with the world number two determined to complete a career Grand Slam by winning the French Open.
"He's been playing really well," Djokovic said of Gulbis. "He's confident. But again, I like my chances because I have had now couple of great weeks on the clay courts from Rome to now last ten days here in Roland Garros."
Djokovic holds a 4-1 head-to-head record, with the favourite winning their most recent contest, three years ago, at Indian Wells comfortably, while also having the distinction of beating Gulbis the last time they met at the French Open, way back in 2008 in the quarterfinals.
"I think just for me it's 0-0 with him in matches," said Gulbis. "The way I'm playing now, I never played like this. I never felt like this. What was in the past I don't even consider. I beat him once, also in a bad match. He was changing racquet, and he was playing really bad."