We are down to the last four is Paris, and like the French Open it’s a star-studded quarter after the popular crew came through today.
Novak Djokovic began quarterfinals proceedings with a resounding 6-1, 6-4 victory over Stan Wawrinka. The win was Novak’s 15th straight but it will most be remembered for a near perfect opening set, one of his best during the streak. Wawrinka, who had pushed Novak to the brink twice this year, had no answer early on.
“Clearly when he plays that good it’s very difficult, especially on this surface where he’s the best, I believe,” said Wawrinka. “Unfortunately he was a lot better than I was today. He put a lot of pressure on me and it was very difficult.”
Roger Federer was next up. The Swiss who has struggled for much of the year earned maybe his finest win of the season defeating Juan Martin Del Potro in three. Because of all the tennis the Argentine’s played, it wasn’t a big surprise to see Roger get through. But still, Federer is playing much better than even a few week sago.
“I think it was a good match from start to finish,” said Federer following his first Top 5 win of the year. “That’s definitely good for my confidence, because those are the kind of wins I need right now.”
And Roger will need that confidence when he looks across the net tomorrow.
Rafael Nadal followed by pasting Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-1 for his 12th straight win over the Frenchman – 19 sets in a row!
“The injury that I had probably makes me play more aggressive than before and that helped me a lot to play better on hard,” Nadal said. “But nothing really changed a lot. Just small things that [gave] me a lot of success.”
And in the finale, in what I would call a surprise David Ferrer continued his title defense with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 win over Tomas Berdych. Ferrer is ranked higher, had the series lead over Berdych but that’s a match the big Czech should win.
So to the semis we go…
Novak Djokovic v Roger Federer
These two former No. 1s meet for the first time this year. In their history, it’s Federer who leads 16-13 however Djkovic has taken three of their last five, all in 2012 including their most recent rumble at the ATP Finals 12 months ago.
After a rough start to the season, Federer’s once again found that form indoors. And I think tomorrow he’ll play well. But Djokovic is fresh, he’s six years younger and let’s be honest, he’s the better player.
“I prefer to play him now than four months ago,” Federer said. “I’m more confident now and I believe again in my chances,” said Federer.
“If I had played a few weeks ago or a few months ago, I might have thought that I was not sure. It might have been more difficult. I believe I can win more now. I will try my best against him because he’s having a very good year again… It’s going to be a very difficult match, but it’s also going to be interesting. We always play very well against each other.”
Djokovic’s won his last 15 matches and today played some incredible tennis in the first set vanquishing Federer’s countryman, Wawrinka. I think in the semis we’ll see more of that.
The only thing that could worry you if you are a Djokovic supporter is maybe he already has an eye on London which begins on Monday.
That said, I can’t see him wanting to lose to Roger. Novak already has his hands full with Rafa and Murray, and he doesn’t want Roger in there as well. Once you have a guy down, you keep him down.
The pick: Djokovic in two
Rafael Nadal v David Ferrer
Rafael Nadal gets another “pigeon” in his path. After dismissing Gasquet who he now leads 12-0 he’ll now face his friend and countryman Ferrer. David at least has a win over Rafa but overall Nadal has dominated with a 20-4 mark having won the last nine.
Like Djokovic, Nadal might also have a bigger eye toward next week and perhaps be willing to hand one to David. But a win Saturday should give him the No. 1 ranking, and that’s an opportunity too rich to pass up.
So this pick is another easy one.
The pick: Nadal in two
Tennis Channel has live coverage from 9:30am.
SATURDAY PARIS SCHEDULE
COURT CENTRAL start 11:45 am
M Mirnyi (BLR) / H Tecau (ROU) vs  A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA)
Not Before 2:30 pm
 R Federer (SUI) vs  N Djokovic (SRB)
Not Before 5:00 pm
 R Nadal (ESP) vs  D Ferrer (ESP)
 B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs  I Dodig (CRO) / M Melo (BRA)
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