Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will face off in the French Open men's final on Sunday. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
PARIS -- Two of the most anticipated matches of the entire French Open failed to live up to their hype, as Novak Djokovic remained steady and ended Ernests Gulbis' run in four sets, while Rafael Nadal blew past Andy Murray in three sets. The world No. 1 and the world No. 2 will battle for the French Open title on Sunday.
Rafael Nadal routed Andy Murray en route to to a blowout: It's no fun playing playing Nadal when he's completely teeing off on his forehand and it's even worse when it's a dry, hot day and you're tired. That's the situation Murray found himself in as he was well off his game physically to be able to handle the barrage of forehand bazookas firing from the Nadal forehand in a 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 beatdown that lasted a mere hour and 40 minutes. "
"I've only got myself to blame, because I was in control of a lot of the matches that went longer than maybe they should have been," Murray said.
The Brit spent over four and half hours more on court than Nadal, thanks to five-set matches against Philipp Kohlschreiber and Gael Monfils, and a tough three-hour win over Fernando Verdasco.
"So if that did have anything to do with it, it was completely my fault," Murray said. "Ideally playing against him on this surface, the way he's hitting the ball today, you have to do a lot of running, chase a lot of balls down. I couldn't get enough back."
Game-by-game analysis of Rafael Nadal's victory over Andy Murray
One of the best returners in the game, Murray won just 10 points when receiving and never got a look at a break point. Nadal, serving at a high 76 percent won 41 of 45 points on his first serve and 57 percent of his second serves. He finished with 24 winners to 15 unforced errors, while Murray hit 11 winners to 26 unforced.
"Today he was hitting extremely hard, extremely heavy, returning well, and was hitting it well on the run," Murray said. "Yeah, that's the toughest match I have played against him."
With the win, Nadal made history by becoming the first man in the Open Era to make the final of a single Grand Slam nine times. He held the previous record with Roger Federer, who has made the Wimbledon final eight times. Nadal is now an astounding 65-1 at Roland Garros.
French Open Day 12 recap: Maria Sharapova, Simona Halep book spots in the women's final
Novak Djokovic overcame a minor blip to beat Ernests Gulbis: Djokovic was cruising, pocketing the first two sets 6-3, 6-3 before he allowed a sub-par Gulbis find his rhythm and get himself back into the point. Djokovic finally closed it out 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 after two hours and 34 minutes to make his second French Open final.
Djokovic, who usually holds his press conferences within an hour of completing his matches, delayed his presser, causing many to speculate that he's not feeling well. Djokovic did admit he struggled under the warmer conditions after two weeks of playing in cool weather.
Here's a clip of Djokovic in his press conference. He doesn't sound great:
As for Gulbis, the nerves and tension that came with playing in his first Slam semifinal got the better of him, but after his huge run here in Paris, he leaves wanting more.
Game-by-game analysis of Novak Djokovic-Ernests Gulbis
"I'm not going to celebrate," he said. "It's not enough. I need to reach more now. Now I'm addicted to success. I felt the success so close, and I don't say that I let it slip, these two weeks, because it's great to play semifinal. I need to make this extra step now. I'm extra motivated now."
All in all, it was a lackluster day in terms of quality, competitive tennis, but Sunday's final featuring the two best clay-courters in the gam should be a another good one.
WERTHEIM: Can Simona Halep take down Maria Sharapova in her first-ever Grand Slam final?
Photo of the day
Andy Murray wasn't playing his best tennis against Rafael Nadal today. (KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
Racket smash of the day
In the upset of the day, Novak Djokovic smashed his racket BEFORE Ernests Gulbis. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Gulbis breaks down his match against Djokovic:
Tweets of the day