PARIS- Defending champion Rafael Nadal moved closer to an historic eighth French Open title Friday when he defeated world number one Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7 (3/7), 9-7 in a titanic semi-final. Nadal, the third seed, took hisParisrecord to a staggering 58 wins from 59 matches after recovering from 4-2 down in the deciding set to clinch victory after 4 hours and 37 minutes.

The 27-year-old Spaniard, bidding to become the first man to win the same major eight times, moved into his 17th Grand Slam final where he'll face Spanish compatriot David Ferrer who shattered the home fans hearts by defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets 6-1, 7-6(3), 6-2.

Friday's win was Nadal's 20th in 35 career clashes -- and 13th from 16 on clay -- against Djokovic. In a dramatic and controversial final set, Djokovic broke for 1-0 before Nadal levelled in the eighth game after the Serb had been handed a time violation and then lost a point when he collided with the net as he put away a smash. Djokovic even summoned the tournament supervisor onto the court to rage over the court conditions as he prepared to serve at 7-8. Nadal pounced, moving to three match points and clinched victory when Djokovic, who ended with an ugly 75 unforced errors, hit wild and long.

"It's a very special win for me and congratulations to Novak -- he's a great champion and he is going to win here at Garros one day," said Nadal, who had lost the pair's only other five-setter, the record-setting 2012 Australian Open final. "When I was serving for the match it was against the wind so I knew that it would be a tough game. It was a similar match to the one inAustraliain 2012 and he won. This time it is me that won and that is what makes sport so big."

Djokovic was furious that his demands for the court to be watered were ignored. "I was not asking to water the court because I want to make my opponent trip or do something like that. I was doing it for myself, because I felt that it got very dry and it was very slippery," he said. "If one player says yes to watering of the court and the other says no, in the end whose opinion has more value?"

On Sunday, Nadal will be appearing in his ninth final since returning from a seven-month injury lay-off. "During these seven months out of the game there were some low moments, but everybody supported me and there was a lot of positive energy," added the Spaniard, who has already claimed six titles in 2013. Nadal took the first set in 51 minutes with the opener turning on the sixth game when Djokovic appeared to tweak the back of his thigh as he chased down a drive.

Ferrer reached his first grand slam final when he beat local favourite Tsonga 6-1, 7-6(3), 6-2 in a one-sided semi-final on Friday to set up an all-Spanish clash with Nadal. Fourth seed Ferrer, yet to drop a set at Roland Garros this year, was barely challenged by sixth seed Tsonga who was unable to focus throughout the match.

Tsonga, bidding to become the first Frenchman into his home slam final since Henri Leconte in 1988, failed to match Ferrer's pace and capitulated after just over two hours. Ferrer fell on his back on to the red clay after a Tsonga forehand went long as the man from Valencia set up the first all-Spanish final at Roland Garros since Alberto Costa beat Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2002.