Two guys we expected. One guy we thought had a chance and another few would have guessed. That’s our final four at the French Open. Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and JW Tsonga.
Let’s get to my picks.
Stan Wawrinka v JW Tsonga
This is another tough match to call, and wouldn’t you know it, their head-to-head is a dead even 3-3 with each having claimed a win over the other at Roland Garros.
“It’s going to be an exciting match, for sure,” Wawrinka said. “Jo is a really strong player. He’s been struggling a little bit since Toronto last year with injury, but in the French Open, in a Grand Slam, he’s always there, always playing really well. He already played a semifinal here a few years ago.”
Other than Djokovic, Stan’s looked the best to me. After a tough start to the clay season, he’s apparently gotten over the personal issues and is now playing forceful tennis. And it’s no fluke. He won the Australian Open and he got back to the semifinals this year and added a French semifinal as well. Stan has had his ups and downs, but he’s a real player.
As for Tsonga, you just don’t know. A few years ago after thumping Roger Federer he barely showed up for his French Open semifinal against Ferrer. I don’t expect a repeat of that horrible performance but you never know.
In fact Wawrinka could also fail to show up. Heck, they both could lay an egg!
But I rate Stan’s chances a little better here. I feel like the Swiss has a little more consistent. Tsonga will have the crowd but I just think Stan is playing the better tennis.
The pick: Wawrinka in 5
Novak Djokovic v Andy Murray
Once again it’s good pals Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. If it seems like they play almost every week, you wouldn’t be far from wrong. It’s already their fourth meeting of the year and Novak’s won those plus the last seven overall.
And it’s Novak ahead 18-8 in their series. And with the streak, the stakes, the win over Rafa, Djokovic is the clear favorite. There’s no debate.
“Both of us are going into the match feeling confident,” Murray said. “He’s obviously played on Court Philippe Chatrier last couple of rounds, which is helpful. I think he goes into the match feeling good.”
Djokovic hasn’t lost a set and he’s dominated this week. Murray’s dropped a few but I think he’s played well, and he too is on a roll.
The problem is Murray’s only chance is if he plays well and Djokovic doesn’t. Novak’s “A” game is better than anything Murray can throw at him.
That said, I do wonder if Djokovic lets down after Nadal. And knowing what Djokovic is playing far – especially now that Rafa is watching at home – Murray is really playing with no pressure. None.
He can go out there and actually have fun against his friend of many years. So I really do give Andy a chance here, and part of me really wants to pick him to pull the upset, because I think it’s more than possible.
“He has improved on clay, no doubt about it,” said Djokovic. “He’s moving better, serving very well, and he always had touch, one of the best groundstrokes in the game… He’s extremely talented. He’s also a great fighter and somebody that has a lot of experience playing in big matches.”
Murray has improved on clay, that’s true. But to win? Novak’s going to have to have an off day for that to happen. And I don’t see it.
The pick: Djokovic in 4
As for surprises, I think anything’s possible. Stan or Jo could win in straight or go five. Novak could very easily roll Murray, and I could see Murray winning in four should Novak fall apart. But otherwise, these should be good matches.
The Tennis Channel and NBC has a tag team on the men’s semifinals.
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