Friday, June 06, 2014

2014 FRENCH OPEN: Men's Semifinals Preview

The men's semifinals for the 2014 French Open are set. This year I correctly predicted 2 of 4 women's quarterfinals and correctly predicted 2 of 4 men's quarterfinals. I also have already made predictions for the women's semifinals. Below are my predictions for this year's men's semifinals.

Rafael Nadal (ESP) [1]  vs Andy Murray (GBR) [7]. Murray did not even play this tournament last year because of an injury but is playing in his 2nd career Roland Garros semifinal and 15th career major semifinal overall. Despite the fact that he has had his best results on hard courts, he is experienced on clay. However, like he does against all his contemporaries Nadal leads Murray 14-5  including 5-0 on clay.

Murray and Nadal played on clay just a few weeks ago in Rome and Murray won the first set 6-1 but ended up losing that three set match. Murray is tall enough that he should not be bothered by Nadal's extreme top spin. Since Murray is coming back from injury many felt that he wouldn't do well in Paris. Some of us didn't even think he would win his previous match against Gael Monfils in front of a Parisian crowd. Nadal has lost three times on clay this year (to Novak Djokovic in Rome, David Ferrer in Monte Carlo and Nico Almagro in Barcelona) so he is more vulnerable (and less confident) in Paris than he has ever been. However, it must help the King of Clay's confidence that he was able to dispatch one of these rivals surprisingly easily when he beat Ferrer 4-6 6-4 6-0 6-1 in the quarterfinals. I'm fairly confident that Murray will put up a better fight than that, but the eventual result will almost certainly be the same. Mad Professah's pick: Nadal in 4.

Tomas Berdych (CZE) [6]Ernests Gulbis (LAT) [18] vs Novak Djokovic (SRB) [2].  Since losing to Nadal in the final of the 2013 US Open, Novak Djokovic has only lost 3 matches and played 56. He lost to  Stan Wawrinka in Melbourne and to Roger Federer in Monte Carlo and Dubai.
Djokovic is playing at a high enough level that in my mind he is now actually the favorite to win here in Paris. He knows that he has the game to beat Rafa in five, he has just been unlucky the last two years. This year he has had quite a tough draw at Roland Garros but has been destroying excellent Top 10 players like Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Milos Raonic in straight sets. His opponent in the semifinals surprised me by following up his dismissal of Roger Federer in the 4th round with a straight-sets shellacking of Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals. The Latvian is finally living up to his prodigious talent and is most definitely a dangerous player but the inevitable high-stakes clash between the World #1 and World #2 is unlikely to be derailed by this 1st time major semifinalist. Instead, for the third consecutive year, the winner of the clash  between Nadal and Djokovic is almost certainly going to determine the winner of the French Open (and probably the year end World #1 ranking).  Mad Professah's pick: Djokovic in 4.

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