Found June 06, 2013 on Fox Sports:
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will face each other in a French Open semifinal that feels like a final. Djokovic is trying to win his first championship at Roland Garros to complete a career Grand Slam. Nadal is trying to become the only man to win eight titles at one major tournament. ''You are not playing a match for a title. You are just playing a match to be in the final,'' Nadal said. ''Big difference.'' Theirs is not the only semifinal Friday, of course. No. 4-seeded David Ferrer of Spain plays No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in the other. Djokovic vs. Nadal goes on court first at 1 p.m. local time, and here are five things - one per set, perhaps - to watch: --- ONLY A SEMIFINAL The past 11 matches between Djokovic and Nadal were in championship matches, including five at Grand Slam tournaments (Djokovic won three). But while Djokovic is ranked and seeded No. 1, Nadal slipped in the rankings while missing seven months with a left knee injury and was seeded only No. 3 in Paris. The draw could have placed Nadal on either half of the field, but he wound up on Djokovic's side. --- WHO IS FAVORED? Their head-to-head history, and Nadal's 57-1 career mark at Roland Garros, certainly seem to bolster the Spaniard's chances. This is their 35th match against each other, and Nadal leads 19-15 overall, 12-3 on clay, 6-3 in Grand Slam tournaments, 4-0 at the French Open (including last year's final). But after losing his first nine matches against Nadal on clay, Djokovic has won three of their last six, including the most recent encounter, in the final at Monte Carlo in April. There are those who think Djokovic has gained a mental edge against Nadal, the way Nadal did against Roger Federer in that rivalry. --- HOW LONG WILL THEY GO? These two guys played the longest major final, by time, at the Australian Open in 2012, going for 5 hours, 53 minutes. One reason: They engage in looooooong points, because both are superb court-coverers and defenders. No ball is out of reach for either. Djokovic's arms and legs seem elastic, Nadal's motor never slows. Djokovic declared right after his quarterfinal victory, ''I'm ready to play five sets.'' Asked about that Australian epic, he said: ''Do you want to see more than six hours' match? I'm sure I don't want to be six hours on the court.'' --- EXTERNAL FACTORS The forecast for Friday shows no chance of rain, which would be to Nadal's liking. When the sun is out and the court and tennis balls stay dry, it allows Nadal to slather his heavy topspin on his big forehand cuts, making that left-handed shot all the more dangerous. The 2012 French Open final was interrupted by showers, and Djokovic took eight consecutive games in on stretch. But eventually, play was halted Sunday, and when they resumed Monday, Nadal finished off his four-set victory. There's one intangible to keep in mind: Djokovic's childhood coach - he likened her to a ''second mother'' - died last weekend, and he says he wants to win the title in her honor. --- THE OTHER GUYS The second semifinal features one particularly intriguing story line. Tsonga is trying to become the first man from France to win the country's Grand Slam tournament since Yannick Noah - whose son, Joakim, plays for the NBA's Chicago Bulls - did it 30 years ago. Expect a loud and proud crowd to give Tsonga plenty of support against Ferrer, who is 0-5 in Grand Slam semifinals. They have very different styles. Ferrer is a metronome, racing back and forth along the baseline to extend points with little flash. The charismatic Tsonga, who beat Roger Federer in the quarterfinals, plays a far more aggressive get-to-the-net game. --- Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Nadal withdraws from Gerry Weber Open to rest

Rafael Nadal has pulled out of the Gerry Weber Open to rest ahead of Wimbledon. Nadal says the grueling physical demands of recent weeks, including the French Open, led to his decision to withdraw from the grass-court event. The 11-time Grand Slam winner plays fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in Sunday's French Open final, after coming through a ferocious five-set encounter with...

Rafa Nadal wins incredible tweener pt against Novak Djokovic at French Open

Rafa Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in five sets at the Semi-Finals of the French Open, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, 9-7. In a match that topped four and a half hours, Nadal powered through with some spectacular shots including this tweener late in the fifth set. It certainly wasn’t the only amazing shot from Nadal in the match.

Nadal ready for Djokovic in Paris

Rafael Nadal groused last week that he was playing so badly he might soon be back home fishing in Mallorca. Then came a transformation. Nadal stood at the net following his latest French Open win wearing that familiar crooked grin, clay caked on his arm, his leg and even the back of his shirt, landlocked and loving it. The fish were spared, and Nadal has lately enjoyed smooth sailing...

Nadal cruises into French semis

Turning in his finest performance yet at this year's French Open, seven-time champion Rafael Nadal reached the semifinals with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 victory over ninth-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka on Wednesday. He will play world No. 1 Novak Djokokovic who beat the twelth-seeded Tommy Haas 6-3, 7-6(5), 7-5. After dropping the first set in each of the first two rounds, Nadal has won 12...

Rafael Nadal Defeats Novak Djokovic in a Roland Garros Semifinal for the Ages

(June 7, 2013) It was a blockbuster Roland Garros semifinal between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic that many would agree was more fitting for a Slam final. After all, Nadal and Djokovic met in last year’s final and have been the two best players in the world on clay for several years now.

Column: In tennis, Rafa vs. Roger is so yesterday

(Eds: With AP Photos.) By JOHN LEICESTER AP Sports Columnist If variety is the spice of life, then we should be sick by now of Rafael Nadal, with his seven titles in eight years at the French Open and another waiting for him in Sunday's final. Perhaps tennis and its only Grand Slam tournament played on clay could do with a change, a new champion. Think again. Tennis and the...

Djokovic – Nadal French Open Semifinal to Air LIVE on Tennis Channel

  LOS ANGELES, JUNE 6, 2013 – Novak Djokovic (1) and Rafael Nadal (3) will meet Live on Tennis Channel in the semi-finals of the 2013 French Open on Friday, June 7th at 7:00 a.m. ET. Tennis Channel’s French Open broadcast team of Ted Robinson and John McEnroe will call the match. For local listings [...]

Nadal easily beats Wawrinka to reach French semis

Turning in his finest performance yet at this year's French Open, seven-time champion Rafael Nadal reached the semifinals with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 victory over ninth-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka on Wednesday. After dropping the first set in each of the first two rounds, Nadal has won 12 sets in a row, looking better and better at Roland Garros, where he now is 57-1. Not that this...

Why does No. 1 play No. 3 instead of No. 4? A short explanation of seeding in Grand Slam tennis

On Friday, Novak Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked player and the No. 1 seed at the French Open, took on No. 3 seed and seven-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal on the red clay in Paris. (Nadal won in a five-set thriller.) If you don’t follow tennis, but do follow other sports with seeded tournaments, you might assume that this Djokovic-Nadal match is for the championship...

Djokovic and Nadal Cruise into Semifinal

By Ros Satar (June 5, 2013) PARIS – After the ups and down in the two women’s quarterfinals, not to mention the excitement after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s dispatch of Roger Federer, there were high hopes that the remaining two men’s quarterfinals would match them.   For Novak Djokovic, the progression was rapid, as he put paid [...]

Roland Garros Rewind: Thoughts on the Men’s Semifinals

Nobody deserved a standing ovation more than these two worthy rivals. A Spaniard has reached the Roland Garros final without dropping a set, but his name is not Rafael Nadal.  Here are some key takeaways from two men’s semifinals that compelled and surprised. That was…worthy of two great rivals:  Whereas the Federer-Nadal rivalry has produced a series of spectacular collisions...

Spectacular and Streaky – A Tale of Two Semifinals

  By Ros Satar   (June 7, 2013) PARIS – On perhaps the hottest day of the French Open tournament this year, the scene was set for two potentially explosive semifinals. There would be an air of expectation for both semifinals, but only one would deliver.   Rafael Nadal def. Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, [...]

Roland Garros Day 12: Links Roundup with Sharapova, Kuerten, Djokovic and Mixed Doubles Champs

Roland Garros Roundup takes you through the Slam’s hot stories of the day, both on and off the court. Maria Sharapova roars her way to the Roland Garros final as defending champion. Shot of the Day: After a relatively easy first set, Maria Sharapova faced an uphill battle for the rest of her match against Victoria Azarenka. The Russian dropped the second set and blew three match...

Roland Garros Fast Forward: Previewing Wednesday’s Quarterfinal Action

Four down, three to go? Two Russians, two Serbs, two defending champions, and two one-handed backhands take the court for Wednesday quarterfinals at Roland Garros. Rafael Nadal vs. Stanislas Wawrinka:  From watching both men play this tournament, this quarterfinal looks like a fascinating matchup of the greatest clay play ever in a vulnerable moment against an outstanding clay specialist...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.