Djokovic, Nadal to meet in blockbuster French semi

By
Updated: June 5, 2013

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World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and seven-time
champion Rafael Nadal will meet in a highly anticipated semifinal showdown
Friday at the French Open.

On the warmest day of the fortnight thus far, last year’s Roland Garros
runner-up Djokovic handled 12th-seeded 35-year-old German Tommy Haas 6-3, 7-6
(7-5), 7-5 on Court Lenglen, while the third-seeded former No. 1 Nadal blew
away helpless ninth-seeded Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 on Court
Chatrier in Wednesday’s quarterfinal action on the famed red clay in Paris.

Friday’s semis will pit Djokovic against Nadal and fourth-seeded David Ferrer
versus sixth-seeded French favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who will appear in his
first-ever French Open final four. Most expect either Djokovic or Nadal to
capture this major championship.

Djokovic smacked 11 aces and tallied five service breaks in handling Haas in 2
hours, 13 minutes and improved to 5-3 lifetime against the German veteran,
including 2-1 at Grand Slam events. The oft-injured Haas was playing in his
first-ever French Open quarter.

Meanwhile, Nadal improved to 10-0 lifetime against Wawrinka and has won all 22
of their sets played after steamrolling his Swiss counterpart in just under
two hours with the help of seven breaks, compared to only one for the Swiss
loser.

“I’m really happy with the way I played today — it was my best match of the
year,” said Nadal, who’s now 57-1 at the French Open. “Stan was probably
tired after his match against Richard (Gasquet in the fourth round) and I feel
sorry for him but I played at a very, very good level.”

Nadal beat the Serbian slugger Djokovic in last year’s French Open final
to secure a third straight and men’s-record seventh overall Roland Garros
title. He is trying to become the first man to win eight titles at the same
Grand Slam event.

The reigning Aussie Open champion Djokovic needs a French Open title to
complete a career Grand Slam.

The 27-year-old Nadal is 19-15 lifetime against his 26-year-old great rival
Djokovic, who beat the Spaniard in an ATP Masters final in Monte Carlo back in
April. Nadal, however, is 6-3 in their Grand Slam meetings, including a
perfect 4-0 mark at Roland Garros. Their previous 11 meetings all came in
finals.

“I have a big fight in front of me and I’m ready for it,” said Djokovic. “I
know this is the biggest challenge for me at Roland Garros, no question about
it. So of course I was satisfied today to win in three sets and not stay on
the court too long. Regardless if I play Rafa or somebody else, it’s the same
mindset. But I need that intensity from the start.”

Nadal has appeared in eight finals in as many tournaments in 2013, capturing
six titles.

Ferrer will meet Tsonga for a fourth time, with the Spaniard leading their
lifetime series 2-1. The Frenchman, however, won their lone Grand Slam
meeting in the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2011.

The 31-year-old Ferrer will appear in his sixth career Grand Slam
semifinal — and second straight at the French — still seeking his first win.

The former Australian Open runner-up Tsonga will appear in his fifth career
Grand Slam semifinal (1-3) and is the first French men’s French Open
semifinalist since Gael Monfils in 2008. He’s also trying to become the
first French men’s French Open finalist since Henri Leconte in 1988 and first
champion since Yannick Noah in 1983.