Let me come right out and say it, even though Gael Monfils is my guy, I’m actually rooting for Roger Federer here to win today and go on to capture the French Open.
Why am I picking Federer today? For me it really comes down to court positioning. If Monfils stands back like he did in his previous matches, I think the advantage swings in Federer’s favor. With the added drop shot and an ability to hit winners off the backhand wing – something Monfils’ previous opponent Andy Roddick was unable to do – I think Federer will be more than able to run Monfils corner to corner to open up the court and eventually finish off the points.
Federer has also been nerve tested this week with gut checks against Jose Acasuso, Paul-Henri Mathieu and Tommy Haas. Meanwhile, Monfils has coasted against some pretty weak clay competition including Bobby Reynolds, Victor Crivoi, Jurgen Melzer and the aforementioned Roddick.
Granted, Federer has not been playing at his top gear, but I fully expect him to raise his level this week, which as I said a few days ago could be the most important seven days of his pro tennis life.
Federer and Gael have played four times before and Roger’s taken each one. But we all remember their spicy affair a year ago in the French Open semifinals when Monfils pushed Federer in a tight four setter on a cool, damp day. Today, however, the skies will be clear, temperature high and the court playing faster, and I think that all should help Federer to negate some on Monfils’ defensive abilities and the support the Frenchman will have from the crowd.
The seas really have parted for Federer with Rafeal Nadal, Novak Djokovic and yesterday, Andy Murray all gone. The players left, Federer’s 38-1 lifetime against, but will Roger take advantage? Is this match the de facto final?
In the other semifinal, I like Juan Martin Del Potro to smoke Tommy Robredo. DelPo has been playing some dominating tennis in Paris, and while Robredo’s more than accomplished on the clay, I don’t think the Spaniard has the firepower to handle the bigger, stronger Argentine.
But as we have seen this year anything can happen at French Open.
As for yesterday, I picked Fernando Gonzalez to get to the semifinals and now I’m likely going to pick him to go one step further. Gonzo pounded on Andy Murray firing winners past the Brit from all angles and directions. Had Nadal gotten through I may have even taken the Chilean to upend Rafa at this stage.
Robin Soderling remained red-hot, destroying Nikolay Davydenko in what I thought was a surprising result. Credit to Robin who is indeed this years Martin Verkerk. But Verkerk was just a finalist, who will be this year’s champion?
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