Djokovic will face No. 3 seed, and arguably one of the best tennis players of all time, Roger Federer, for the semis at Roland Garros Friday morning.
Making it this far in the tournament was no easy feat for either player. Since last week, Djokovic defeated Frenchman No. 13 Richard Gasquet (6-4, 6-4, 6-2) in the fourth round; although the score downplayed the actual difficulty of the match, the Serbian said that he didn’t expect an easy match from Gasquet and he really had to work hard for the win.
After beating Gasquet, Djokovic advanced straight to the semis without playing a quarterfinal match. His intended opponent, Fabio Fognini, pulled out of the tournament due to a severe left thigh injury, robbing the Serb of a potential 42nd victory.
His future opponent, Federer, took down No. 14 seed Stan Wawrinka (6-3, 6-2, 7-5) in the fourth round, and defeated French favorite No. 9 seed Gael Monfils (6-4, 6-3, 7-6 [7-3]) in the quarterfinals.
Federer was the last competitor to beat Djokovic, and it was in the semifinals of the Barclays ATP World Tour finals in London Nov. 27, 2010. Since that match, Djokovic has gone just over half a year without losing a match.
Federer will certainly give Djokivic a run for his money when the two meet for battle.
With that said, Djokovic isn’t the only player trying to make history — if No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal defeats his next two opponents, he will match Bjorn Borg’s record of six French Open Titles.
The Spaniard will meet the No. 4 seed Brit, Andy Murray, for the semifinals, which will also take place Friday. Nadal has a career record of 10-4 against Murray, and is mentally and physically prepared to make that record 11-4.
This marks the first time in five years and the 12th time in the Open history that all four top seeds have advanced to the men’s semifinals of the French Open.
Nadal defeated two tough competitors in the fourth round and quarterfinals to reach this point. Although Ivan Ljubicic is extremely talented, he was no match for the No. 1 seed, who breezed through him with a score of 7-5, 6-3, 6-3, to reach a familiar face in the quarters.
No. 5 seed Robin Soderling was the only player standing in the way of Nadal reaching the semis — and he also happened to be the only player in history to beat the Spaniard at Roland Garros. Needless to say, Nadal came out with guns blazing, and didn’t give the Swede a chance to get his rhythm.
Soderling’s poor serving performance of just 57 percent, as well as his 41 unforced errors, assisted in his loss against the king of clay with a score of 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3) Wednesday.
Nadal’s British opponent and long-time friend Murray said that he is surprised to have made it to the semis because in his mind, his level of play has been below par. Besides his “poor level of play” Murray tore a tendon in his right ankle during the third round of the tournament, which could possibly affect the outcome of his match against Nadal.
This is the first time Murray has reached the semis at the French Open in his career, and is only the second British man to reach them since Tim Henman did seven years ago.
To make it to this point, Murray defeated No. 15 seed Victor Troicki in the fourth round and Juan Ignacio Chela in the quarters. In his match against Troicki, Murray came back from two sets behind and showed his mental resilience in a 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 two-day victory. He then knocked out Chela in straight sets 7-6 (7-2), 7-5, 6-2.
With a star-studded roster, the men’s side of the draw is action packed and full of world-class tennis. As Nadal commented to ESPN about his fellow players Djokovic and Federer, “The best player of the world today against the best player [in] history … [it’s] going to be, in my opinion, fantastic match.”
That’s just on the men’s side of the draw — let’s not forget about the women’s side.
All four top-seeded women were knocked out throughout the tournament, leaving No. 5 seed Francesca Schiavone as the highest ranked player left.
Schiavone defeated No. 10 seed Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in the fourth round, and No. 14 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 1-6, 7-5, 7-5 in the quarters.
She will face No. 11 seed Marion Bartoli, who just knocked out the talented Svetlana Kuznetsova in three sets.
The other remaining competitor is No. 6 seed Li Na as No. 7 seed Maria Sharapova fell in the semi-finals. Although Sharapova hit a rough patch over the last few seasons, she has been playing her best tennis at Roland Garros and was one of the favorites to win up until her loss to Na 4-6, 5-7.
Regardless of who wins on the each side, tennis fans across the globe will likely be glued to their television to watch these final matches of the French Open.