The biggest weekend of the clay season gets underway Friday at the French Open. Up first is a blockbuster semifinal featuring rivals Rafael Nadal against Novak Djokovic. Then it’s French favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga against David Ferrer. While the first semi features two of the game’s greats, the second has Ferrer trying to reach his first Slam final and Tsonga just his second.
Match time is 1pm locally in Paris.
ITF semifinal notes:
For the 9th consecutive Grand Slam 3 of the Top 4 seeds feature in the semifinals. The last time 3 of the Top 4 seeds failed to reach the semifinals at a Grand Slam was at the 2011 Australian Open. This was also the last time a player seeded outside the Top 4 reached a Grand Slam final.
Novak Djokovic will look to keep his hopes of completing his Grand Slam set this year alive by defeating Rafael Nadal as the 2 players meet in the semifinals of a tournament for the first time since 2009 Paris-1000.
Nadal is bidding to reach his 8th Roland Garros final and remain in the hunt to become the 1st man in history to win 8 titles at the same Grand Slam event.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is looking to become the first French finalist at Roland Garros since Henri Leconte in 1988. Hoping to stop him, David Ferrer is bidding to reach his first Grand Slam final and avoid equalling Tim Henman’s record of 6 Grand Slam semifinal defeats without reaching the final of a major.
Both Tsonga and Ferrer have reached the semifinals without dropping a set. If either of them reach the final here without dropping a set they will become just the 7th man in the Open Era to reach the Roland Garros final without dropping a set (Bjorn Borg achieved this feat 3 times, while Nadal has done it 4 times). Nadal is the last man to achieve that feat here last year.
Tsonga has won fewer matches this year than the other 3 semifinalists. Nadal leads the way with 41 wins – 36 of which have come on clay. The Spaniard has lost just two matches this year.
NO. 1 NOVAK DJOKOVIC (SRB) v NO. 3 RAFAEL NADAL (ESP)
Head-to-head: Nadal leads 19-15
This is the 35th meeting between Djokovic and Nadal. This is the joint-most matches played in a head-to-head at Tour-level in the Open Era:
Jimmy Connors v John McEnroe 35
Jimmy Connors v Ivan Lendl 35
Novak Djokovic v Rafael Nadal 35
Andre Agassi v Pete Sampras 34
Ivan Lendl v John McEnroe 34
Djokovic ended a 3-match losing streak to Nadal with victory in the final at Monte Carlo-1000 earlier this year.
Their last Grand Slam meeting in the final here last year saw Djokovic take his first set off Nadal at Roland Garros in 4 attempts.
This is Djokovic and Nadal’s 10th Grand Slam encounter, putting them in joint-2nd place for the most matches played at majors:
Djokovic is also bidding to become the 16th man in the Open Era to reach back-to-back finals at Roland Garros.
Djokovic is looking to become just the 8th man in history to complete the career Grand Slam after Andre Agassi, Don Budge, Roy Emerson, Federer, Rod Laver, Rafael Nadal and Fred Perry. He is one of 11 men to have collected 3 of the 4 major titles in the Open Era.
Of the 7 men to possess a career Grand Slam, 4 of them ‘completed the set’ at Roland Garros: Fred Perry in 1935, Donald Budge in 1938, Andre Agassi in 1999 and Roger Federer in 2009
This is Djokovic’s 12th consecutive Grand Slam semifinal. He is currently in 2nd place for the most consecutive Grand Slam semifinal appearances.
Djokovic is the only man to win 3 or more Grand Slam matches against Nadal. Only 5 men have won multiple Grand Slam matches against the Spaniard.
Defending champion NADAL is bidding to become the first man in history to win 8 titles at the same Grand Slam event. He is one of 7 men in history to have won 7 Grand Slam titles at one event [see Preview page 1]. Nadal and Chris Evert are the only players to have won 7 Roland Garros titles.
Nadal will become the leading performer in Roland Garros history if he wins the title here. Nadal has a 57-1 win-loss record at Roland Garros, putting him 3rd on the list for most wins at Roland Garros behind joint-leaders Roger Federer (58) and Guillermo Vilas (58).
Nadal is bidding to win his 12th Grand Slam title overall. He is currently joint-4th with Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver on the list of all-time Grand Slam men’s singles title holders behind Roger Federer (17), Pete Sampras (14) and Roy Emerson (12).
At the 2010 US Open, Nadal became the 7th man in history to win all 4 Grand Slam titles. He was the 3rd-youngest in history and the youngest man in the Open Era, to do so.
Nadal is bidding to reach his 17th Grand Slam final. He is currently in joint-5th place with Bjorn Borg and Ken Rosewall on the all-time list of most appearances in Grand Slam finals.
NO. 4 DAVID FERRER (ESP) v NO. 6 JO-WILFRIED TSONGA (FRA)
Head-to-head: Ferrer leads 2-1
FERRER is bidding to reach a Grand Slam final for the first time.
If Ferrer reaches the final for the first time in his 42nd Grand Slam appearance he will have made more Grand Slam appearances than any other player in the Open Era before reaching a final.
TSONGA is bidding to become the first Frenchman to reach the Roland Garros final since Henri Leconte in 1988. He would become the 10th different Frenchman since the event became international in 1925 to reach the final here.
Tsonga is looking to become just the 5th Frenchman since 1925 to reach multiple Grand Slam finals after Jean Borotra, Henri Cochet, Rene Lacoste and Cedric Pioline.
The last Frenchman to reach a Grand Slam final is Tsonga at the 2008 Australian Open (l. Novak Djokovic). Unseeded he defeated 3 Top 10 players en route to the final.
FRIDAY FRENCH OPEN SCHEDULE
Court Philippe Chatrier 1:00 PM Start Time
Novak Djokovic (SRB) v. Rafael Nadal (ESP)
David Ferrer (ESP) v. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)
BET AT HOME ODDS
Novak Djokovic 2.20 v Rafael Nadal 1.55
David Ferrer 1.65 v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2.00
WEATHER.COM PARIS FORECAST
Sunny, high of 79F.
Tennis Channel at 7am with Djokovic-Nadal followed by NBC with Ferrer-Tsonga.
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Who’s The Greatest Man To Have Never Won A Grand Slam?
Nadal Bids for Six-Peat at Monte Carlo, But Draw Not Easy
Odo to Bodo
Rafael Nadal Battling a Fever