Roland Garros – quarterfinals
(6)David Ferrer d. (4)Andy Murray 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-2 [3:45 h]
It was a grueling battle (on Suzanne Lenglen) between two players with very similar clay-court skills. Ferrer after winning four consecutive matches without any problems, confirmed his great form jumping to a 5:2* (adv.) lead. Murray saved the set point and afterwards had two game points to level the score. In the 2nd set (almost entirely played in a drizzle) Ferrer came back twice from a break down but Murray prevailed in the tie-break thanks to very offensive attitude. The rain was heavier and officials decided to suspend the last quarterfinal as Murray led 1:0* in the 3rd set. It was a very good circumstance for the Spaniard because Murray is known for an ability to shift the momentum onto his side while winning a “contact set”, he had already shown it twice this year in Paris (against Nieminen & Gasquet) and many times in the past, also against Ferrer during their last year’s semifinal in Melbourne. The rain-break lasted between 6:45 p.m. and 7:12 p.m. local time. When players returned, Ferrer won the longest game of the match to take a 2:1 lead (five deuces, Murray squandered five game points). It was the turning point, Murray leveled in that set at 3-all but Ferrer’s ascendancy was visible more and more. The Scot began to signal back problems in the 4th set and made an unforced backhand error trying to save the second match point. He has been ousted before semifinals in Grand Slams for the first time since Australian Open 2011; Ferrer advances to his first Parisian semifinal in ten attempts (previously reached that stage in New York and Melbourne). “I thought I played some good tennis tonight,” said Murray. “I just didn’t convert. I mean, I had a lot of chances in the last couple of sets on his serve and I lost a lot of really long games on my serve, which didn’t help.”
(2)Rafael Nadal d. (12)Nicolas Almagro 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-3 [2:46 h]
Almagro entered this quarterfinal having won the last eight matches in straight sets, including victories over very good players (Simon, Baghdatis, Tipsarevic); he has strong serve and blistering forehand on the rise – all these things could indicate some problems for Rafa… if he had not won all seven meetings with Almagro… The older Spaniard showed his A-tennis in the first six service games, but since losing the opening point on serve in the tie-break his chances dropped drastically. Nadal is almost unbeatable in Paris, the only loss he has suffered occurred when he was outplayed in the 1st set (to Soderling three years ago). Everyone knows it, knows it Almagro as well. There’s nothing more to say about Almagro in sets Nos. 2 & 3 that he was on the court and won a few good points. Nadal records his 50th win in Paris, and his new shoes (with No. 6) won’t be probably up-to-date next Sunday when he will have won his 7th Roland Garros title overcoming Bjorn Borg, who celebrates today his 56th birthday. For Almagro it was third major quarterfinal, third in Paris against Nadal, each one in two-year intervals, below all these matches (played on Philippe Chartier):
2008: Nadal d. Almagro 6-1 6-1 6-1
2010: Nadal d. Almagro 7-6(2) 7-6(3) 6-4
2012: Nadal d. Almagro 7-6(4) 6-2 6-3
(1)Novak Djokovic d. (5)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 5-7, 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-1 [4:09 h]
If Tsonga had won this match, it would have been one of the most remembering days in the modern French history of men’s tennis. If… Tsonga was atrocious through a set and a half. The serve didn’t work, the forehand was an error-machine. It allowed Djokovic to possess a pleasant, yet tricky 6-1 4:2 lead. Quite often comfortable leading against a dangerous opponent is delusive though – it was one of those cases, once Tsonga broke back, he was a different type of player. Especially that he knows how to deal with tight situations, and Djokovic almost lost three straight tight sets for the first time in his career… There was a drizzle in the 4th set, Tsonga held a double match point on return at 5:4 – it was the closest point out of four m.p. chances he squandered on that day: Djokovic played an overhead after a bounce, followed by a backhand volley, and Tsonga was in position he passes often well, but delivered too casual backhand and the No. 1 finished the point with a forehand volley. The second match point was saved with a cross-court forehand on the third stroke. Two games later Tsonga had two match points again, this time on advantages: first he made a forehand error, the fourth m.p. Djokovic fought off with a smash. In the tie-break Tsonga led 4:2* when a long rally occurred with a couple of slices from both sides, the Frenchman failed, and it was a turning point. This rally and that one which he won at 2-all (17 strokes – the longest rally of the match) cost him too much energy. Admittedly he saved a double set point, but at 6-all made a simple forehand error followed by a backhand error and enthusiastic Parisian crowd fell silent. The vast majority of supporters left the stadium, it’s tough to say unequivocally whether they felt correctly the final outcome or their lack of support made an impact on Tsonga’s powerless display in the decider. “As a tennis player, this is what you live for,” said Djokovic. “This is what you practise for all these years, to be part of an incredible performance, incredible match encounter here in Roland Garros with the home players. I’m really glad that I could win today.” Tsonga stated: “This is probably the most difficult defeat or loss in my career. It’s very rare for me to have match points and not win the match, so I [will] remember that because it was Roland Garros; it was a quarter-final.” Such a defeat occurred to him for the fourth time in 102 main level tournaments (Simon in Rome ’08; Clement in Lyon ’09, Nalbandian at Indian Wells ’12 & Djokovic in Paris).
(3)Roger Federer d. (9)Juan Martin del Potro 3-6, 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-0, 6-3 [3:14 h]
It’s an unfortunate concept in my opinion that quarterfinals in Paris are played simultaneously on two biggest arenas. On Tuesday, when Federer won his second match point against Del Potro, Tsonga held one of his match points against Djokovic on Philippe Chartier, fans on a stadium are excluded of following important events on a different court, fans in houses have to deal with switching between streams or TV channels… Anyway it was a high quality match through first two sets, especially in the 2nd set as Juan Martin broke back immediately in the middle of the set and saved three break points at 4-all. The Argentinan kept the strong ball consequently on Federer’s backhand not permitting the Swiss to mix the pace. Del Potro had never lost a two-sets-to-love lead prior to Roland Garros ’12, but… this tournament cost him physically too much. He was needlessly involved in 4-setters against inferior opponents (Montanes, Roger-Vasselin), losing sets in these matches despite being close to wrap them up. He also played about 30 minutes longer set against Cilic (than had been required, cause DelPo wasted six set points before took the set in a tie-break… saving a double set point). His bandaged left knee finally manifested itself with an increasing pain, and the US Open champion ’09 melted in the last three sets. Only in the 1st game of the final set appeared a ray of hope as he had two break points. “[The] second set was a tough set for me to lose, but he played a really good breaker and got the better of me. But I was happy that the first two sets took some time, because I did favour myself once the match got longer. I’m very happy with the way I fought and started in the third set, fourth set, and even in the fifth set, where, obviously, it was the toughest, because that was his last chance and his resistance maybe was the strongest there.” commented Federer, who since 2nd set of this match played much more convincing tennis than in his previous encounters against players of “lower leagues”. Federer has already beaten Del Potro on five occasions this year (four times in straight sets)!
19-16 Roger Federer, 17-5 Novak Djokovic, 8-4 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 4-5 Juan Martin del Potro
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