Novak Djokovic dismantled nine-times champion Rafael Nadal in straight sets at the French Open to stay firmly on course for a career Grand Slam.
Nadal’s king of clay crown slipped as Djokovic underlined his status as the world number one with a 7-5 6-3 6-1 quarter-final victory in Paris, the two-time finalist from Serbia taking his place in the last four in the most emphatic fashion.
The comprehensive nature of Djokovic’s victory was no surprise on the evidence of the recent form of the two men, but Nadal had previously lost only once on the clay of Roland Garros and that defeat came 40 games ago.
Djokovic is now two victories away from claiming his first French Open title - he was runner-up in 2012 and 2014 – and it would be a brave act to bet against him doing so as he has still yet to lose a set in Paris this year in extending his winning streak to 27 matches.
The first set was the longest of the match at 67 minutes and Nadal exhibited signs of the brilliance which has taken him to so many triumphs in Paris.
The hard-hitting Djokovic set out his stall by racing into a 4-0 first set lead but Nadal discovered his rhythm to break back twice and level.
But the Spaniard had to save three set points at 5-4, the last two exquisite drop shots which Djokovic had no answer to.
Djokovic applied the pressure again on Nadal’s next service game and, after failing to take two opportunities, he finally closed out at the sixth time of asking with a low forehand which his opponent could not keep in play.
But Djokovic was soon unhappy over the fact that the court had not been watered at the end of the first set, the Serb slipping several times as the second set became a battle of attrition with the server on top.
Nadal also had problems keeping his footing and Djokovic broke to lead 5-3 before taking a two-set advantage on his fourth set point.
There was no way back for Nadal after that as the relentless Djokovic punished every mistake and went for winners at every opportunity.
Djokovic stormed into a 4-0 lead before Nadal dug deep from 15-30 down to win three straight points and get on the board.
But the Spaniard’s old swagger was gone and a double fault to hand Djokovic the match summed up what was a disappointingly one-sided affair.