Rafael Nadal is one win away from his record-extending ninth French Open title.
The 28-year-old Spanish tennis star, already an eight-time champion with a 65-1 career record at Roland Garros, needs just one more victory on the red clay to make him the first man to win five in a row and give him his 14th Grand Slam title — a tie in second place with Pete Sampras.
Nadal advanced to the final by soundly defeating Wimbledon champion Andy Murray 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 on Friday on Court Philippe Chatrier, the stadium Nadal calls his favorite place to play.
He jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first set, then broke early again in the second and third sets. Nadal had six break points in the entire match and converted each one.
Murray, meanwhile, didn’t even earn a single break point.
Nadal will next face Novak Djokovic, who defeated Ernests Gulbis 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the first semifinal.
Nadal has beaten Djokovic at the French Open in all five of their previous meetings, starting with a quarterfinal victory in 2006. They also met in the semifinals in 2007, ’08 and ’13, and in the final in 2012.
The second-seeded Djokovic, however, has beaten Nadal the past four times they have played, including on clay in the final in Rome last month.
“I’m going to try to be aggressive because that is the only way I can win against him,” Djokovic said. “I know that, of course, this is the court he’s most dominant on. He has only lost one time in his career. This is where he plays his best.”
The winner on Sunday also will be ranked No. 1 on Monday. Nadal is currently at the top but needs to extend his French Open winning streak to 35 matches to stay there.
Besides his eight titles at the French Open, Nadal has also won twice at Wimbledon, twice at the U.S. Open and once at the Australian Open. Sampras won 14 major titles in his career but never the French Open. The record holder is Roger Federer with 17 Grand Slam titles. He won his 14th in Paris in 2009, the only French Open in which Nadal lost a match.