Friday, June 07, 2013

2013 FRENCH OPEN: Men's Semifinals Preview

The men's semifinals are now set at the 2013 French Open. This year, I correctly predicted 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals correctly3 of 4 men's quarterfinals correctly and 2 of 2 women's semifinals correctly. Last year I correctly predicted 2 of 2 men's semifinals.

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] vs Rafael Nadal (ESP) [3]. This was always viewed as the match that would determine who would win the tournament when the 2013 French Open draw was revealed two weeks ago. But both players had to get through their individual quarters of the draw to reach this stage, which they both did, both dispatching venerable opponents in straight sets in the quarters (Tommy Haas by Nole and Stanislas Wawrinka by Rafa). This is their 35th career meeting, with Nadal currently holding a 19-15 edge, but Djokovic won the last time they played, which was a rare win over the King of Clay in a clay court final, to wrest the Monte Carlo Masters shield from Nadal. It's hard to pick against Nadal here when he has only ever lost 1 match at Roland Garros and won the title a record 7 times. But he is playing someone who has beaten him 3 times in clay court finals and who very nearly beat him last year. One key factor will be the weather. The hotter and drier it is the better it is for Nadal because it helps him to use his excessive topspin on the ball to keep it out of Djokovic's strike zone. It was during heavy wet conditions last year in the 2012 final here that Djokovic reeled off a string of 7 games, something no one had ever done to Nadal. Nadal knows that Djokovic can beat him, and Djokovic knows that Nadal knows. In the end, this match up will most likely come down to mental tooughness, and there I give the slight edge to Nole. Mad Professah's pick: Djokovic.

David Ferrer (ESP) [4] vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) Roger Federer (SUI) [2]This is an incredibly important match for these two players who have been trying to break the stranglehold at the top of men's tennis held by Nadal, Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray for the last several years. The good news for Tsonga and Ferrer is with Murray out of the draw they only had to face one of the Fab Four to reach the final. It turned out to be Tsonga's task to face Federer in the quarterfinal round and he rose to the challenge to dispatch the curiously erratic Swiss great in a rare straight set loss at a major. Ferrer has yet to drop a set in the entire tournament, but that will almost certainly end on Friday. Even though Ferrer has a slight 2-1 head-to-head over Tsonga and has won their only meeting on clay, I believe that Tsonga will use the Parisian crowd to give the French public their first homegrown finalist in 25 years. Ferrer has been in 5 major semifinals and lost all of them, while Tsonga has been in four and won one. Ferrer is yet to beat Federer or Nadal while Tsonga has beaten both of them, multiple times. Tsonga is a much better big match player, while Ferrer had an epic collapse in the Miami 2013 final earlier this year against Murray. Even though one would expect Ferrer to win because of his dominance of this surface, I believe Tsonga superior talent will pull him through. Mad Professah's pick: Tsonga.

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