Nadal v Djokovic in Semis at French Open
Not that you need extra help when you’re Rafael Nadal on clay, but it doesn’t hurt when the guy on the other side of the net lays down in reverence.
That was the story at the French Open Tuesday in fourth-round play where the world No. 2 Nadal spanked his heartless countryman Nicolas Almagro 6-1, 6-1, 6-1. You could visually see the fight leaving Almagro’s body early in the contest when he realized he was on a different planet than the player he holds in the highest regard.
“I tried to play it at the beginning, but I did not expect such results…He starts playing and his balls bounce up six meters high,” Almagro told reporters. “These are things I’m not used to. I’m not used to that on the tour, to have such heavy balls, such pace, such rhythm. His level is very high. It’s very difficult to play equal.”
In the other fourth-round match Tuesday, No. 3 seed Novak Djokovic edged his former junior practice partner, 19-year-old Latvian Ernests Gulbis 7-5, 7-6(3), 7-5.
“He has all the elements in his game,” Djokovic said of Gulbis, who many are already projecting as a sure-fire Top 10 player, speaking to reporters. “He has great potential and he’s a very nice guy. We knew each other’s game but we never met officially in tournaments so it was a bit tricky for both of us. I knew he was going to be aggressive and go for his shots so I was trying to be patient and just try to calm his game down a little bit. There were a lot of interruptions with the bad weather but I think it went to my advantage because when there is rain, the courts are getting slower which makes his serve not so effect[ive] as in other conditions.”
Nadal and Djokovic will square off in the semifinals.
“There is no such thing as a pre-written script before the tournament starts, and anything can happen before any match,” Nadal said of his anticipated meeting with Djokovic. “You never know if you’ll make it to the semifinal, final, and win. This is something that we all have in mind. We all know that.”
Scheduled for Wednesday at Roland Garros are men’s quarterfinals Gael “Force” Monfils vs. (5) David Ferrer, and (1) Roger Federer vs. (24) Fernando “Gonzo” Gonzalez.
Ivanovic, Jankovic Set Up All-Serb Semis at French Open
The Serbian Express eased into the semifinals on Tuesday at the French Open and a head-to-head clash after No. 2 seed Ana Ivanovic defeated No. 10 Patty Schnyder 6-3, 6-2, and No. 3 Jelena Jankovic beat unseeded Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro by the identical score.
Ivanovic, last year’s runner-up, is looking forward to taking it a step further than when she choked and suffered a nervous straight-set beating at the hands of now-retired Justine Henin.
“I feel like [a] different player this year,” Ivanovic said. “I don’t want to forget last year. I want to remember it and use it to play better.”
Ivanovic leads Jankovic 5-1 in their head-to-head meetings.
In fourth-round play, No. 4 Svetlana Kuznetsova eased past No. 16 Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 6-3, and Kaia Kanepi defeated Petra Kvitova 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in a battle of unseeded players.
Kanepi is the first Estonian to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal.
“I have been believing in myself that I can play top players for a long time,” Kanepi said. “I was hoping for a breakthrough someday.”
Unfortunate news flash for the Estonian: Kvitova is not a top player.
On the schedule for Wednesday at Roland Garros are women’s quarterfinals (13) Dinara Safina vs. (7) Elena Dementieva in an all-Russian, and (4) Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Kaia Kanepi.
Novak Djokovic has won 15 straight sets at the French Open…But Rafael Nadal, who celebrated his 22nd birthday, has won 26 straight matches after his second straight 3-game surrender to a countryman. Nadal has given up just 25 games through 5 matches, which is the fewest for any male player at an Open Era Slam entering the semifinals. Nadal is also 26-0 at the French, and 39-0 in best-of-5 clay matches…All four matches Tuesday went straight sets…If Kuznetsova loses tomorrow, the Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic match will be for the No. 1 ranking…While Ashley Harkleroad will be on the cover of the August Playboy issue, Ana Ivanovic will reportedly have an 8-page spread in the next FHM…Rafael Nadal is 3-0 on his birthday — he beat Federer in 2005, Montanes in 2006 and now Almagro in 2008…Novak Djokovic has reached five straight Slam semifinals…Ivan Ljubicic once made the second round at five straight Slams. That’s good too…During a post-match interview Monday, Mats Wilander of Eurosport actually apologized on air to Roger Federer for the “lack of balls” comment he made about the Swiss a few years ago…A Russian women has been in the French Open semifinals for seven straight years now (Sveta or Elena will make it)…Gael Monfils is appearing in his first career Slam quarterfinal…Rafael Nadal’s birthday beatdown on Almagro was the second-most lopsided quarterfinal match in Slam Open Era play, just behind Vilas’s 6-1, 6-1, 6-0 trashing of Ray Moore at the 1977 US Open…Fernando Gonzalez has yet to lose a match on clay this year…When was the last time Roger Federer played a five-set match?…Forecast: The dreary, cool conditions continue in Paris on Wednesday…Robby Ginepri was the first American male to reach the fourth round of the French Open since Andre Agassi in 1997…Oft-arguing Indians Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi have reportedly mended fences after a dinner in Paris at the French Open and will play the Beijing Olympics together, and at least two tournaments during the run-up…According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the attourney representing the four Italian players fined and suspended by the ATP is getting ready to counter-sue the ATP, which is already being sued by the Masters Series-Hamburg event…Now Japan’s Akiko Morigami said she did NOT receive instructions from a coach to throw a doubles match at the French Open last week — according to damage control by the WTA Tour. “I am aware of the media reports, and unfortunately, my comments were misunderstood,” said Morigami in a statement released by the WTA Tour.
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