Serbia’s Novak Djokovic stayed firmly on course to win his first French Open title on Tuesday after he defeated big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic 7-5, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 to reach the semi-finals.
The world number two is only missing the Roland Garros trophy to complete his Grand Slam career set.
“It was very complicated against his serve which is so precise and powerful but I’m really happy,” Djokovic said. “It was difficult to return and important for me to keep concentration but I’m delighted to be in the semi-finals.”
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.
He will now play 18th seed Ernests Gulbis for a place in the final after the Latvian eliminated Czech Republic sixth seed Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
“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,” Djokovic said.
The first set went with serve until Djokovic forced the decisive break at 6-5 to take the opener in 50 minutes.
Raonic, who was bidding to become the first Canadian man to reach the French Open semi-finals, only created one break point on the Djokovic serve which he failed to covert in the first two sets.
Again the second set went to serve with neither player facing a break point heading into the tie-break.
The second set tie-breaker was poised at 4-4 before the Serb reeled off three straight points to take a stranglehold on the match at two sets up.
While Raonic fired down 15 aces and 34 winners over the first two sets, but his 29 unforced errors were his downfall.
The first Canadian man in the Open era to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final, suffered his second break of serve to open the third set as Djokovic raced into a 5-1 lead.
However despite Raonic delaying the inevitable by breaking the Serb’s serve for the first time, it was too little too late as Djokovic served out for the match at the second time of asking.