After some terrific quarterfinal matches at the French Open, the men's draw is down to the final four survivors. That Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are through is no surprise; exactly how some of them made the semis was a bit unexpected. The fourth player, Spain's David Ferrer, might have caught some fans off guard with his run to the semifinals.
Novak Djokovic vs. Roger Federer - Djokovic had to fend off a serious challenge from world #5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to make the last four. Tsonga had four match points on Djokovic but could not get the all-important final point. Fans remembering Andy Roddick poking fun of Djokovic in years past for injuries, real or otherwise, had to be impressed with the fortitude shown by the Serb in finding a way to win the fourth set. Federer, likewise, was pushed to the limit in his quarterfinal match. The all-time leader in Grand Slam singles titles lost his first two sets to Juan Martin del Potro but came to life and took the match in five sets.
Head to Head - Djokovic and Federer are no strangers on the tennis court. The two have met 25 times, including nine times in Grand Slam tournaments going all the way back to the 2007 Australian Open. Federer holds a slight 5-4 edge in the Slams, including a semifinal win over Djokovic at last year's French Open. In their most recent contest on clay, Djokovic beat Federer this year in the semis in Rome. I see Djokovic winning this semifinal, but I think it will be a great match.
Rafael Nadal vs. David Ferrer - It is no breaking news story that Nadal is breezing his way through this tournament. He has yet to drop a set, though Nicolas Almagro pushed him to a tiebreaker in the first set today. After taking the tiebreaker Nadal won the next two sets with relative ease. David Ferrer continued his outstanding 2012 season by making the French Open semifinals for the first time in his career. This is the third trip to a Grand Slam semifinal match for Ferrer (2007 U.S. Open, 2011 Australian Open). He has won three times this year and is currently ranked #6 in the world.
Head to Head - These are two more players who know the other's game well. Nadal has gotten the best of Ferrer 15 out of the 19 times they have played, including beating Ferrer 11 of their last 12 matches. Nadal recently beat Ferrer in the final at Monte Carlo and in the semis in Rome. Ferrer is having a great French Open, but considering Nadal is 50-1 in his career at Roland Garros, it's hard to imagine Ferrer winning this match.Brad Boeker has been a fan of professional tennis for over 30 years. He coaches high school tennis in Illinois.