Nadal, Murray Try To Complete Fab Four’s Return To The French Open SFs; QF Picks And Pans
With rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer already booked, it’s Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray’s turn to join them making a third straight Slam with the Fab Four hogging the semifinals.
Will it happen?
After the nailbiting drama we saw Tuesday, I think thinks things settle down today. Here are my picks:
Rafael Nadal v. Nicolas Almagro
In what could be the first of two matches against countrymen en route to the final, Nadal will put his 18-match French Open win streak on the line against Nicolas Almagro. Like most friends and foes from Spain, Nadal has dominated this series leading 7-nil and there’s little to think an upset can be had today.
Almagro, though, I think keeps it close. Like he did in their last meeting won by Nadal 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 in 2010 French quarterfinals, the baby-faced Almagro can pack a punch and put Nadal on the defensive. Nico has an excellent one-handed backhand, a formidible forehand and he’s got some extra pop on his serve, though he’s not the lightest on his feet. So I think he could even take a set or at least push Nadal in one or both of the first two. But Nadal is still too tough, especially if the weather becomes an issue.
The pick: Nadal in three
Andy Murray v. David Ferrer
Ferrer is just three sets from his first French Open semifinal, and this close in what could be his last/best chance I think he gets it done. Murray, though, won’t be an easy out despite those nagging back spasms. Ferrer’s been untouchable thus far through four matches, but he hasn’t faced anyone close to Murray’s quality. The Scot trounced a hot-handed Richard Gasquet to reach the last eight. And under new coach Lendl, Murray’s going to be right there, shot-for-shot, with David, fighting until the bitter end.
In this series, Murray’s won five of nine meetings however it’s Ferrer leading on his favorite clay surface 3-0. And for me that’s the difference. Ferrer’s flat-out the better player on this surface and this French Open is the event David circles on the calendar every year. Unlike Murray who targets Wimbledon (and the Olympics this year), for Ferrer the French open means the world to him. And after many disappointments this is a match he’s got to have.
I also think the numbers are against Murray (or Nadal for that matter). How many more times can the Fab Four continue to make the semifinals at the Slams? US Open, Australian Open and now the French Open all after the French Open last year? It’s a remarkable run and incredible that these four could have that much separation from the field, that’s why I think it ends here, and unfortunately for Murray I don’t see Nadal losing so the Scot becomes the fall guy.
On the flip side, Ferrer is 30 and by reaching the semifinals he would join Federer in the semifinals, making for two 30-year-olds in the last four of a Slam, quite a rarity. That said, age makes this one that much more urgent for Ferrer.
The pick: Ferrer in four
ESPN2 is on live at 8am ET with the women’s semifinals, which I think will go to Sharapova and Kvitova. Then Tennis Channel comes on later.
WEDNESDAY FRENCH OPEN SCHEDULE
Court Philippe Chatrier 2:00 PM Start Time
Kaia Kanepi (EST) v. Maria Sharapova (RUS)
Nicolas Almagro (ESP) v. Rafael Nadal (ESP)
Maria Kirilenko (RUS) v. Andrea Hlavackova (CZE)
Nadia Petrova (RUS) Lucie Hradecka (CZE)
Court Suzanne Lenglen 2:00 PM Start Time
Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) v. Petra Kvitova (CZE)
David Ferrer (ESP) v. Andy Murray (GBR)
Elena Vesnina (RUS) v. Klaudia Jans-Ignacik (POL)
Leander Paes (IND) Santiago Gonzalez (MEX)
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