Thursday, June 6, 2013

French Open: Semifinal Preview

If there's something to be said with regards to the players who made it to this stage, it's that it's been a very formful tournament.All four of last year's finalists are still around and the lowest seed is sixth, which all just means that we're in for some epic showdowns.

N. Djokovic [1] vs. R. Nadal [3]
D. Ferrer [4] vs. J. Tsonga [6]

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga played the spoiler here by convincingly knocking out 2nd seed Roger Federer in a straight set beating that saw the former French Open champion unable to do much of anything against the Frenchman who got even more support from the home crowd. The rest of the line-up is made up of last year's semifinalists which includes Tsonga's next opponent, the indefatigable David Ferrer who easily handled the inevitably exhausted Tommy Robredo the round prior. Both man are trying to reach their first ever French Open final.

It's the other match-up though that everyone has been waiting for ever since the draw came out. Last year's finalists Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will meet for the 35th time in what many are calling the de-facto final. Djokovic pushed Nadal to four sets last year, but his form heading to this tournament is not what it was last year. Similarly, Nadal has blitzed through the clay season as per usual, but is he 100% physically? Nadal and Djokovic won in straight sets their previous round against Stan Wawrinka and Tommy Haas with the latter capping off his terrific tournament with the most spirited performance among the losing quarter-finalists.

My prediction for the finals? Nadal vs. Tsonga.

S. Williams [1] vs. S. Errani [5]
M. Sharapova [2] vs. V. Azarenka [3]

Last year's winner Maria Sharapova was bageled in the first set in her quarterfinal match against Jelena Jankovic, but was able to grit her way to a win. She's going to need that same attitude against Victoria Azarenka who reaches the semifinals at the French Open for the first time in her career by winning in straights against Maria Kirinlenko. Azarenka leads their H2H 7-5, but Sharapova has won at the two clay tournaments they've played. Should be an interesting match to watch and certainly it's the match whose result is not certain.

Unlike the other semifinal match between favorite Serena Williams and last year's finalist Sara Errani. Every sports stat will say this is a slam-dunk win for Serena who has just been on top form this tournament, but she did hit her first bump the prior round losing a set to former French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. But her focus to capture only her second French Open title is at an all-time high and at this point she is her own worst enemy. As for Errani, she has certainly backed up her surprise results from last year including a convincing straight sets win against Agnieszka Radwanska, but beating Serena will be a big ask especially since Errani is also still alive in Women's Doubles!

My prediction for the finals? Serena vs. Sharapova.

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