Roland Garros – Day 13 (SF)

# Only for the fourth time in the Open era,  top four seeded players met in the semifinals at Roland Garros (12th time overall in majors). The other interesting historical circumstances: Nadal and Murray joined a relatively modest group of pairs that met in all four Grand Slam tournaments whereas Djokovic and Federer made the sixth pair to play in three consecutive Grand Slam tournaments!

1st semifinal:
(1)Rafael Nadal d. (4)Andy Murray 6-4, 7-5, 6-4    [3:17 h]

A bilaterally high-quality tennis in the first two sets, both players had the same amount of winners (11 in the 1st set and 12 in the 2nd set); in both sets Murray was arguably close to win them, but “King of Clay” responded with his amazing stamina in the most important moments. He already led 5:1* in the 1st set, but the Brit had two break points to level at 5 games apiece – Nadal saved break points with long rally and serve & volley action. There were four consecutive breaks of serve in the longest 2nd set (73 minutes), Murray finally broke the streak, led 5:4* – Nadal easily held then, and won five games in a row. From 2:0* in the 3rd set, the defending champion was only trying to hold his serve. The level of Murray’s game slipped significantly, however, he had break points in three consecutive games (six in total). Nadal won the last game of the match to ‘love’, producing very good shots to finish all rallies (two forehands, one backhand and smash). The Spaniard said on a chance to tie Borg’s record of six titles at Roland Garros: “[I have] a lot of respect for the great Bjorn, but I am focus[ing] on try[ing] to play well. For me, is much more important [to] win Roland Garros than equal Bjorn.” Nadal celebrated his 25th birthday with a cake after the victory… Stats of the match

2nd semifinal:
(3)Roger Federer d. (2)Novak Djokovic 7-6(5), 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5)    [3:39 h]

It was their third straight Grand Slam semifinal and eighth Grand Slam match overall, which place them just two matches behind the record holders, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe! Djokovic before the match had an unusual long break between matches (four days!) because of Fognini’s walkover in the last eight. The level of tennis in this second semifinal was tremendously high throughout. In the 1st set, Djokovic led 4:2, at 5:4* had a double set point – when Federer saved the first set point, Djokovic was ironically laughing because was caught “contre pied“. The Serb had also his chance in the tie-break – 5:4, but Federer won the last three points and took the initiative at the beginning of the following set. Djokovic was forced to save a lot of break points to avoid a ‘1-6’ or ‘2-6’ set. He raced into a 3:0 lead in the 3rd set and held his service games to the end of the set. The 4th and the last set was arguably the best set which was played on the day, and the most thrilling as well. Djokovic broke Federer after five deuces at 4:4 (the Swiss won his first four service games easily), but couldn’t push the match onto Saturday (there was 9 p.m. and potential 5th set was impossible). Djokovic had a break point at 5:5, in the 12th game was twice two points away from defeat. In the tie-break Federer with the help of two good serves made a triple match point – the Serb saved two of them, but at the third one, Federer served an ace down the middle (his 18th) and roared in ecstasy. 9:38 p.m. appeared on the on-court clock – it’s the latest finished match in the history of the tournament; by one minute has been surpassed a record established eight days ago by Chardy & Simon! “I’ve trained a lot during my whole life for these kinds of matches,” Federer admitted, “There was an enormous amount of pressure on Novak and he really played well.”

# Top 4 seeded players in Parisian semifinals:
1984: 1 – McEnroe, 2 – Lendl, 3 – Connors, 4 – Wilander
1985: 1 – McEnroe, 2 – Lendl, 3 – Connors, 4 – Wilander
2006: 1 – Federer, 2 – Nadal, 4 – Nalbandian, 4 – Ljubicic
2011: 1 – Nadal, 2 – Djokovic, 3 – Federer, 4 – Murray
# Pairs of players who have faced each other at all four majors (in parantheses – years between they did it):
(1985-1987) H.Leconte vs. A.Mansdorf
(1980-1989) J.McEnroe vs. I.Lendl
(1983-1989) J.McEnroe vs. M.Wilander
(1991-1993) S.Edberg vs. J.Courier
(1991-1994) P.Sampras vs. J.Courier
(1989-1995) P.Sampras vs. M.Chang
(1990-1995) P.Sampras vs. A.Agassi
(1992-1996) P.Sampras vs. T.Martin
(1994-2000) P.Sampras vs. M.Tillstrom
(1995-2000) P.Sampras vs. M.Philippoussis
(2004-2006) R.Federer vs. N.Kiefer
(2002-2006) M.Safin vs. O.Rochus
(2005-2007) D.Tursunov vs. T.Henman
(2001-2009) A.Roddick vs. L.Hewitt
(2007-2009) R.Federer vs. JM.Del Potro
(2007-2011) R.Nadal vs. A.Murray
# Three consecutive matches at all slams:
(US Open 1983 – Roland Garros 1984) I.Lendl vs. M.Wilander
(Roland GarrosUS Open 1984) J.McEnroe vs. J.Connors
(Roland GarrosUS Open 2003) P.Srichaphan vs. D.Hrbaty
(Wimbledon 2005 – Australian Open 2006) R.Federer vs. N.Kiefer
(Roland GarrosUS Open 2008) J.Chardy vs. F.Gil
(US Open 2010 – Roland Garros 2011) N.Djokovic vs. R.Federer
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