Roland Garros – Day 13 (SF)

2nd semifinal:

(4)David Ferrer d. (6)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga     6-1, 7-6(3), 6-2     [2:04 h]

Unfortunately Tsonga couldn’t deal with the pressure, there was a lot of talking about the 30th anniversary of Yannick Noah‘s triumph at Roland Garros; because there are some resemblances between him and Tsonga, the expectations were high. I saw a Tsonga-Ferrer match in Paris-Bercy last ferrer_rg13_Autumn, so I knew that if Ferrer had won that match easily, he would have been a strong favorite to win again on clay, but Tsonga’s performance must be considered as a disappointment anyway. The antsy Tsonga played the entire match much below his standards, even when he led 3:0* in the 2nd set and later had a set point at 5:4 (Ferrer saved it with a service winner), it was more a consequence of decrease of Ferrer’s reliability than Tsonga’s improvement. Actually Tsonga delivered a good tennis only in the 11th game of the 2nd set when he saved four break points, including one with a stretching backhand volley from no-man’s land. That point could shift the momentum onto his side, but it didn’t happen. The Frenchman was talking to himself all the time, some of his reactions were weird, for example in the tie-break, when he suggested to his box troubles with visibility, but was deprived of eye-drops, and during change of ends he used water to wash his eyes! “I’m very, very happy. This tournament is very special for me and to be the first final of Grand Slam in Roland Garros is amazing,” said Ferrer, who had lost his five previous Grand Slam semifinals. “Now I want to enjoy this moment, to rest tomorrow, and to try my best in the final.” Similarly to Alberto Berasategui 19 years ago, he advances to his first Grand Slam final not dropping a set! Stats of the match

1st semifinal:

(3)Rafael Nadal d. (1)Novak Djokovic    6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7(3), 9-7    [4:37 h]

nadal_djokovic_rg13Their 35th meeting will be remembered as one of the most exiting ones in their amazing rivalry. For Djokovic it’s been an ultimate task to beat Rafa in Paris, which virtually would have guaranteed him capturing the title, the only Grand Slam title he hasn’t won yet. The Serb started strongly as he counted on repeating in some sense the Monte Carlo ’13 final when he stunned Nadal from the beginning. This time Nadal was much more vigilant, and made a break in the 7th game despite a game point for Djokovic. That game initiated a period of Nadal’s superiority which extended onto the next 30 minutes or so. The Spaniard led 3:2 with a break in the 2nd set when Djokovic decided to give his best, trying at all costs to avoid theoretically insurmountable on clay a two-sets-to-love deficit against Rafa. Djokovic played four consecutive games brilliantly to level the score, however, it cost him a lot of energy and he couldn’t recover physically at the beginning of the 3rd set. He had to save a double set point to avoid the first bagel in their rivalry! In the 4th set Djokovic came back to his disposition from the early stages of the match, he was dictating the points with well-placed backhands in all directions mixed up with perpendicular backhand dropshots, but it was Nadal who led with a break of serve 4:3 and 6:5. In the 12th game, after two forehand winners he led 30/15 being two points away from another final, but stumbled a bit and lost his confidence – Djokovic not only forced a tie-break, but he jumped to a 4:1 lead and won it in convincing style. A great backhand return gave him an early break. Leading 3:1, Djokovic tried as hard as could to get the second break, but the Spaniard responded with fantastic shots to take the game after a couple of deuces. The 8th game was the key to this match: Djokovic saved a break point and was in a position to finish a point with an overhead, and then a disaster came – he touched the net with his body after a bounce far away from Nadal’s range. Djokovic argued but obviously Pascal Maria had to award Nadal with a point – rules are clear – before the second bounce a player can’t touch the nadal_rg13_net! After that point the Serbian was not the same, above all he lost ability to get a point directly with an overhead. Trailing *6:7 (40/15) he netted an overhead like a beginner, and missed another one opening the 16th game. It was too much for him to handle, in the following point his shaky shot was punished by Nadal’s FH, and two forehand errors off Nadal’s returns finished an epic encounter in rather poor style. “You need to love the game,” explained Nadal. “You [need to] appreciate what you are doing in every moment. I learned during all my career to enjoy suffering, and these kind of matches are very special. You don’t have the chance to play these kind of matches every day. So when these kind of matches happen you suffer, but I really enjoy these moments.” Djokovic, who lost his first five-setter in nine matches when 5th set reached 5-all, stated: “It’s been an unbelievable match to be part of, but all I can feel now is disappointment. I congratulate my opponent, because he showed the courage in the right moments and went for his shots. When he was break down in the fifth, he made some incredible shots from the baseline. I congratulate him, because that’s why he’s a champion. That’s why he’s been ruling Roland Garros for many years, and for me it’s another year.” It was their 10th meeting at majors (fifth in Paris) # They are just one match away from equaling a record of Ivan Lendl and  John McEnroe, who met 36 times. Stats of the match

# Biggest H2H’s at majors:
11 – Roger Federer vs. Novak Djokovic (6-5)
10 – Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer (8-2)
10 – Ivan Lendl vs. John McEnroe (7-3)
10 – Rafael Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic (7-3)
# 5-set barometer: 16-5 Rafael Nadal, 18-7 Novak Djokovic
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