Rafael Nadal
Nadal won through after five grueling sets.

Rafael Nadal booked an eighth French Open final appearance following an epic five-set victory over world No.1 Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros.

Nadal won 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-7 8-6 and will face either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or David Ferrer in the final.

The seven-time French Open champion served for the match at 6-5 in the fourth set, before Djokovic came back to set up a fifth set, during which Nadal staged his own recovery, battleing back from a break down to claim victory in the fifth hour of play.

Djokovic came into the semi-final anything but at his physical peak and with a losing record against Nadal, looking to reach an eighth final at Roland Garros and protect a record of only having lost once at the French Open.

And the first set went with the form book, Nadal claiming an early break in the fifth game before serving it out 6-4 as Djokovic wasn't allowed to gain any momentum in the opening exchanges.

The Spaniard looked like taking a firm grip of the match after storming into a 3-2 lead with a break, but Djokovic provided evidence he still had some fight in him, rolling off four successive games to level the match.

But the Serbian was unable to use the set to swing the match in his favour as Nadal won the first five games of the third, eventually sealing the set 6-1, despite a time penalty in the final game, to put one foot in Sunday's final.

When Nadal broke not for a first time, but for a second in the fourth set Djokovic's powers of recovery appeared to be at an end, as the seven-time French Open champion came out to serve for the match after three hours of play.

However, Djokovic produced a moment of inspiration as he broke Nadal in the 12<sup>th game with a ferocious forehand winner to set up a tie-breaker, which he duly took 7-3 to set up the most unlikely of fifth sets.

The impetus was with Djokovic and he secured an early break to lead 2-0, not before Nadal missed two break-back chances as he sought a way back into the deciding set.

After successive holds, another break point came and went for Nadal, finding the tramlines with a cross-court forehand, but after Djokovic touched the net following an overhead volley, the defending champion was handed two more chances to break, the second of which he duly converted.

A gutsy hold from Nadal piled the pressure on Djokovic at 5-4, but the Australian Open champion responded in kind as the fifth set headed into a sudden death tie-break.

Nadal began it in truly sensation style, with two stunning passes as Djokovic was left to stand and stare and his opponent lay down the first marker, before he leveled the match again. But when Nadal hit the front again in the 15th game, Djokovic had no reply as a succcession of errors saw the No.3 seed secure his place in an eighth final.