Novak Djokovic
Djokovic marches on towards completing a career grand slamGetty Images

World number one Novak Djokovic ended Rafael Nadal's stranglehold of the French Open with a straight sets victory over the nine-time and defending champion at Roland Garros.

Nadal had lost just once, to Robin Soderling, in 71 matches on clay in Paris but he had no answer to Djokovic who prevailed 7-5 6-3 6-1 to reach a fifth straight semi-final against either Andy Murray or David Ferrer.

Djokovic has never won the French Open and needs the title to complete a career grand slam, which he would be the eighth player to clinch should he go on to win the second major of 2015.

Defeat for Nadal meanwhile sees his grip on the summit of the men's game loosen as he slips out of the world's top 10 but more tellingly after being humbled on his favoured surface and at a tournament he has won a record nine times.

Despite failing to enjoy his customary dominance of the clay court season, Nadal's infamous record at Roland Garros meant he was not to be underestimated even by Djokovic who had beaten the 29-year-old in five of their last six meetings.

And it was Djokovic who began the more assertive and therefore the better as he strolled into a 4-0 lead in the opening set with a series of deep and powerful ground-strokes which knocked back Nadal.

The Madrid-born left-hander responded in a manner which has typified his career, with a barrage of forehands to overhaul the double break, but when Djokovic raised his level further there was no answer as he took the opening set 7-5.

Locked at 3-3 in the second set, Djokovic and Nadal looked set for another slog which had defined their rivalry on clay. However, the number one seed had other ideas and won three games in a row to take a two set lead and leave the king of the French Open on the brink.

Djokovic took the first four games of the third set but unlike the opening exchanges there was to be no comeback from an increasingly tiring Nadal, as the Serbian broke again with ease to reach the last four of a major for the 19th time in the last 20 grand slams.