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Melzer wins Djokovic epic; Nadal eases into last four

Jurgen Melzer salutes the crowd in Paris after beating Novak Djokovic to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal.
Jurgen Melzer salutes the crowd in Paris after beating Novak Djokovic to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jurgen Melzer beats Novak Djokovic in a five-set epic at the French Open
  • Melzer wins four-hour marathon 3-6 2-6 6-2 7-6 6-4 to reach semis
  • Rafael Nadal will face Melzer after beating Nicolas Almagro
  • Nadal beats fellow Spaniard 7-6 7-6 6-4
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(CNN) -- Jurgen Melzer battled back from two sets down at the French Open to beat Novak Djokovic in a four-hour epic and book his first ever appearance in a Grand Slam semifinal.

The 29-year-old Austrian eventually triumphed 3-6 2-6 6-2 7-6 6-4 in front of a rapturous crowd to set up a clash with Rafael Nadal.

Melzer looked to be heading for a swift exit, winning just five games as the number three seed powered his way to the opening two sets.

Djokovic went a break up in the third but, from nowhere, Melzer launched an incredible fight back to take the set 6-2.

The fourth went to a tie break but Melzer won it 7-3 to take the match into a deciding set.

If anything the standard of tennis improved in the fifth as Djokovic unleashed a string of fiery forehands, with Melzer utilizing his drop shot to good effect.

With the set level at 4-4 Melzer finally broke his opponent's serve, but in the next game Djokovic thought he had gone 0-30 up before his passing shot was controversially overturned by the umpire.

The Serb saved two match points but Melzer eventually sealed his passage to a first ever semifinal at a major championship.

"I told myself, 'It's my first quarter-finals in my life in a Grand Slam, just don't go away. Just don't make it easy for him. Fight as much as you can'," Melzer told a press conference.

"And I wasn't playing so bad, I just missed a lot of easy shots when I had the chance and the opportunity to finish the point. After that I got back in, and at 2-2 in the third it was an open match. I think I got a little under his skin after the third set."

Melzer will face four-time champion Rafael Nadal who is on course to regain his French Open crown after easing past fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro.

Nadal went through in straight sets, recording a 7-6 7-6 6-4 victory in two hours 34 minutes at Roland Garros.

Almagro sped out of the blocks on Court Philippe Chatrier, racing into a 3-0 lead in the opening set, but Nadal recovered a break to level the match at 3-3.

Nadal eventually clinched the set 7-2 in a tie break. The second set offered up only one break point -- Nadal saving it -- before the world number two triumphed 7-3 in the tie break.

Almagro held on until 4-4 in the third set before Nadal broke his serve to love, the world number two sealing the match in the next game.