Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and David Ferrer are through to the French Open semi-finals and will face each other in what surely will be an intriguing match. The question now is, who will join them?
Tomorrow, the seven-time champion and almost undisputed King of Clay Rafael Nadal will take to court. The ninth seed Stanislas Wawrinka will be the man on the opposite end of the court. He comes into the match on the back of a thrilling five-setter with Richard Gasquet.
The pair have met nine times on the court with only one man coming out on top each time, the current world number four and former world number one. They fought out the recent Madrid Masters final, won 6-4 6-4 by Nadal (watch below). On the even less positive side for Wawrinka, the Swiss has never even won a set against the Spanish master – not the perfect previous form to go into a quarter-final of such stature, but, often, form goes out the window on such occasions and is something, as a player, will need to be out of his mind.
On his current route to the last eight, Rafa has dropped two sets, which were in his opening two matches. It’s quite fair to say, he’s yet to produce his best tennis but he’s got the job in front of him done without too many worries. The fact that he’s yet to be tested physically as Wawrinka may impose, or certainly Djokovic, could be a contributing factor – we know how well he can be in such long, physical encounters, particularly on his favoured surface clay. Could his knee be the reason behind his uninspiring, but still sufficient, tennis so far? There seems to be no indication that’s the case but who knows?
Wawrinka does face an uphill challenge to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final and, if he did, he really would be upsetting all the odds. This is the furthest he’s reach in a major since the 2011 Australian Open. Like many, if not all, I believe it’ll be Rafa we’ll see strutting his stuff in the final four. It’s surely too big of an ask for the 28-year-old, even more so over five sets. However, nine of the twelve ATP finals he’s reached have been on clay, also his opponent’s number one surface.
Meanwhile, world number one Novak Djokovic will battle it out with veteran Tommy Haas in the other quarter-final match tomorrow. Their head-to-head is a pretty close one – the Serb has won four of the seven matches. The most recent one was certainly a scalp for the underdog, the current world number fourteen (watch below).
Tommy Haas has defied any psychological age barrier. At 35, around four years older than Federer, he has made the French Open quarter-finals in straight sets in all but one of his Roland Garros matches so far in the tournament – an amazing, and by far the French Open 2013 best match to date (watch below), win over tennis’ marathon man John Isner. The score-line was 7-5 7-6 4-6 6-7 10-8 and it took the German an astounding thirteen match points to win the match! Most other players wouldn’t be able to bounce back from losing so many match points.
Even more credit must go to the Hamburg-born player for his journey back to the pinnacle of men’s tennis. He was once the world number two but his career began to be heavily disturbed by injuries, on two occasions he’s been forced to drop out of the world rankings altogether, even missing two separate years on tennis. When you consider Nadal’s brilliant comeback from injury, Haas’ re-rise is most definitely as fantastic.
His opponent, Novak Djokovic, has dropped just the one set so far this tournament. Since his victory on clay at the Monte Carlo Masters, doing the near-impossible of beating Rafa there, he’s been far from his best – suffering early, by a world number one’s standard, exits in the clay events leading up to Paris.
It’s clear that Tommy Haas has the fitness levels but is this one step too far? I think so but, as a fan of any underdog when my favourite player isn’t involved, I’m backing the German!
– Nathan Morley