In the most anticipated men's match of 2013, Rafael Nadal overcame Novak Djokovic and his "never say die" attitude 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7 (3), 9-7 on Friday to advance to his eighth French Open final. Standing in the way of his eighth title at Roland Garros is David Ferrer, who charged past a surprisingly sluggish Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 7-6 (3), 6-2.
In the first semifinal, Nadal was the better player but had to fight back Djokovic's mini surges of excellence. The Serb was up and down as he struggled to measure the range on his groundstrokes, while Nadal sustained a steady, high level. Despite getting broken while serving for the match in the fourth set, Nadal maintained his focus and his purpose, battling back from 0-2 in the fifth and breaking Djokovic at love to win the match.
Ferrer had a much easier time, outclassing a nervy Tsonga as the sun set over Chatrier. The 31-year-old Spaniard is into his first Grand Slam final, which will be played Sunday.
Here are some of our favorite photos from the men's semifinals.
Novak Djokovic: The Comeback King simply ran out of comebacks. He came back from a break down to take the second set and from a break down twice to win the fourth, but couldn't hold on to a 2-0 lead in the fifth. (Petr David Josek/AP)
Rafael Nadal: The defending champion was forced to play just his second five-set match in his eight-year career at Roland Garros. (Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic: The Serb was unhappy with the officiating in the match. Despite his request, the courts weren't watered between the fourth and fifth set and he was also annoyed to be called for a violation when his momentum carried him into the net after hitting a surefire winner in the fifth set. (Petr David Josek/AP)
Rafael Nadal: Rafa hit a tweener! And he won the point! (Peter David Josek/AP)
Rafael Nadal: Rafa the Tattletale points out Djokovic's net violation. It's OK, Rafa. We all saw it. (Michel Euler/AP)
Novak Djokovic: This is what frustration looks like. (Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal: This is what, "Oh, my goodness, I'm so close to winning" looks like. (Michel Spingler/AP)
Rafael Nadal: Bathe in your glory, Rafa. Have a bubble bath. (Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal: Hey, that's not the trophy. Warming up for Sunday? (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)
David Ferrer: The quintessential David Ferrer picture. (Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: It was a rough day for Tsonga, who looked to be feeling the weight of trying to become the first Frenchman to make the final in 25 years. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)
David Ferrer: It took 42 Slams and five semifinals, but Ferrer finally made a major final at age 31. (Petr David Josek/AP)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: He left the court to tepid applause and scattered boos and whistles. Apparently beating Roger Federer in straight sets isn't enough for these fans. (Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)