French Open Semi-Final Preview
As the French Open has been going on, some of my predictions live on, and some have fallen to the wayside. The Men’s Semifinals are where some of the best overall tennis is played in any Grand Slam Tournament, but history is on the line here now more than ever. For Novak Djokovic, victory at the French Open would allow him to hold all four Grand Slam titles at one time, making him the first player since Rod Laver to do so, a considerably more impressive feat than even that due to the evolution of surfaces and athleticism over the years. For Rafael Nadal, a win at Roland Garros would grant the Spaniard his seventh French Open title, passing Bjorn Borg for the most all time. Whomever the winner is will have to get through a gauntlet of a Semi and Final.
#1 Seeded Novak Djokovic vs. #3 Seeded Roger Federer
Both of these familiar faces required elaborate escape acts to get to the semis at Roland Garros. Djokovic faced French hopeful Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and faced four match points in the fourth set before holding serve at 5-6, winning a tiebreaker, and ultimately cruising in the fifth to victory. Federer also faced a scare against US Open 2009 winner Juan Martin Del Potro, who took a two sets to love lead against the Swiss Maestro before Fed stepped on the gas pedal.
When Novak and Roger face off against each other on Friday, this matchup will rekindle a rivalry with plenty of history. Just last year Federer handed Djokovic his sole grand slam defeat, beating him at this very stage in five. And at the US Open Semi, Djokovic turned the tide on Fed, saving two match points in the fifth set and reeling off three straight games to reach the final. The keys to this particular match for Federer is maintaining focus throughout, as he appeared lackadaisical at times in his first two sets against Del Po, and using his powerful forehand aggressively. While not in peak 2006-form, that forehand is still lethal, and Fed will need it to be on to win this match. As for Djokovic, it will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure of holding onto this Grand Slam streak. Should he falter, it may be due to Rod Laver’s curse. However, Djokovic has the younger legs, and otherworldly consistency, and he should prevail in a tight semifinal.
Prediction: Djokovic in Four Close Sets
#2 Seeded Rafael Nadal vs. #6 Seeded David Ferrer
Nadal hasn’t required any sort of escape act at this year’s French. His remarkable prowess on clay has yielded a 50-1 mark in Paris, and there are no signs of him slowing down this year. His most impressive victory thus far was a 6-2 6-0 6-0 thrashing of Juan Monaco. He’ll face his fellow countryman David Ferrer, a feisty Spaniard with a game well-suited for clay. Ferrer recently defeated Andy Murray, and seems to be on a bit of a hot streak, but his career 1-12 mark against Nadal on clay is anything but promising.
What Ferrer essentially needs to get past Nadal is some sort of injury to hamper to 6-time French Open champion. The only time Nadal has lost at the French was a 2009 defeat to Swede Robin Soderling, where Rafa was visibly hampered by a knee injury that resulted in him eventually pulling out of Wimbledon. The unfortunate truth about Ferrer is that he simply does not have enough weapons to defeat Nadal on clay. Nadal can run down almost everything, and his wicked topspin forehand is aided considerably by the high-bouncing red clay. Ferrer is a fighter, and may take a set, but that’s all that can truly be expected of him.
Prediction: Nadal in Four