French Open 2014: Ernests Gulbis and Novak Djokovic both win their quarter-finals
Last Updated: 03/06/14 7:32pm
Ernests Gulbis followed up his shock French Open defeat of Roger Federer with a swashbuckling dismissal of sixth seed Tomas Berdych to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final.
He will now take on Novak Djokovic for a place in the final after the Serb stayed firmly on course to win his first Roland Garros title by taming big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic.
The 25-year-old Latvian Gulbis, better known for his colourful behaviour and outspoken comments off the court than his achievements on it, stormed to a 6-3 6-2 6-4 win.
"This is very special, I am very happy to share it with you," said Gulbis.
"It was my best match of the tournament so far. Everything worked. Tomas was getting angry because I was hitting the lines all the time but, sorry, that's part of the sport."
Djokovic also came through in straight sets, 7-5 7-6 (7-4) 6-4, although he had to work hard in the first two sets to break down Raonic.
Reformed playboy Gulbis, 18th seed on the Paris clay, extended his winning run after downing Swiss master Federer in five sets in the previous round.
Czech Berdych, in his now familiar blue and white flowered shirt, seemed short of shots and ideas to squash the newly focused Gulbis who, at 25, has declared this season his "last train" for success after admitting wasting his talent since his breakthrough in 2007.
Ernests) Gulbis is a very good player, he beat Roger (Federer) and now (Tomas) Berdych in three sets which is really impressive. He's playing his best tennis so it's going to be an important match for me.
Gulbis peppered his play with almost casual-looking winners at times, as well as spirited exchanges with the umpire over contested calls, to set up a meeting with Djokovic.
Gulbis has a 4-1 losing record against Djokovic with whom he once trained when they were youngsters in Munch.
Their first meeting was in the French Open quarter-finals in 2008 when Djokovic won in straight sets, the pair's only previous clash on clay.
The Serb world No 2 is only missing the Roland Garros trophy to complete his Grand Slam set but he moved closer towards his dream on the back of an excellent return of serve.
The 27-year-old from Belgrade reached his sixth semi-final in Paris, the third best tally in the Open era, as he made it three wins out of three against Raonic, following Rome in May and a Davis Cup semi-final in 2013.
"It was very complicated against his serve which is so precise and powerful but I'm really happy," said the six-time Grand Slam title winner.
"It was difficult to return and important for me to keep concentration but I'm delighted to be in the semi-finals.
"(Ernests) Gulbis is a very good player, he beat Roger (Federer) and now (Tomas) Berdych in three sets which is really impressive. He's playing his best tennis so it's going to be an important match for me," he added.