Highlights from days nine and ten at Roland Garros 2012…
Novak Djokovic. The pose the world No.1 struck at the end, head thrown back to the heavens, knees bent and hands clutching his shirt, showed that this was no ordinary win. It was exactly the same as he looked after beating Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final, and as he did in the image above. Except he didn’t rip his shirt. Not yet. Saving four match points during a five-set epic 6-1, 5-7, 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-1 against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Djokovic advanced to the semi-finals, two wins from the back-to-back grand slam. If only one could bottle up his mental strength and have it for breakfast.
Also big for…
Roger Federer. The world No.3 set up yet another semi-final against Djokovic, the first since losing from match point up in New York, with a two-sets-to-love down 3-6, 6-7, 6-2, 6-0, 6-3 recovery against Juan Martin Del Potro. Only the seventh time in his career that he’s achieved such a feat, Federer was aided by Del Potro’s worsening knee, racing through sets three and four for the loss of just two games, before closing it out in the fifth. His performance to beat Djokovic at the semi-final stage at Roland Garros last year, ending the Serb’s streak, was one of Federer’s best matches of 2011. Can he repeat the feat in 2012?
Meanwhile in Rafa-land
The defending champion had breezed into the quarter-finals the day before by dispatching Juan Monaco for the loss of just two games. As did David Ferrer over Marcel Granollers, losing five games. The final two semi-final spots will be decided on Wednesday.
A week ago, it looked like Andy Murray’s French Open would be over. But the Scot produced another this-is-why-I’m-world-No.4 performance to beat Richard Gasquet in four sets, after dropping the first set 6-1. It didn’t have the drama of their five-set epic in the first round here two years ago, but it was still nail-biting at times. Murray meets David Ferrer to see if he can reach a second consecutive French Open semi-final.
There is a new Italian No.1, Sara Errani. The pint-sized female continued her red-hot form to dismiss Anqelique Kerber in two tight sets, 6-3, 7-6(2), to reach her first Grand Slam semi-final.
Don’t tell Sam
That she’s fast becoming the favourite to win this caboodle. Stosur, runner-up in Paris two years ago, produced another exemplary clay-court performance to defeat Dominika Cibulkova, 6-4, 6-1, and reach the semis.
Who on earth?
Is Yaroslava Shvedova, you might be thinking? The little-known Kazakh unseated defending champion Li Na in three topsy turvy sets, 3-6, 6-2, 6-0, yet another unfathomable scoreline for the Chinese. But Shvedova has pedigree at this level, having reached the US Open semi-finals way back in 2009. She faces Petra Kvitova next, who has quietly been working her way through the draw despite not having had much clay-court form at all.
Were Maria Sharapova’s win over Klara Zakopalova, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2, which included an almost very nasty ankle injury, and Kaia Kanepi’s 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 victory against Arantxa Rus. Their quarter-final will be a powerful one.
Press conference fail
The journalist who began Novak Djokovic’s presser with a question about an exhibition in Brazil in November. Perhaps he didn’t watch the match.
Serena Williams is still in Paris. She went to a Jay Z concert at the Bercy stadium, according to Doug Robson of USA Today.
8-0. Maria Sharapova’s record in three-set matches in 2012 (per Beyond the Baseline). Quite something.
Meanwhile on the doubles court…
The semi-finals are set. Top seeds Mirnyi and Nestor play Italians Bracciali and Starace, while the Bryan brothers, seeded second, take on Qureshi and Roger.
In the women’s, Spanish combo Llagostera Vives and Martinez Sanchez face Errani and Vinci, and Kirilenko and Petrova will take on Hlavackova and Hradecka.
There’s mixed too! Elena Vesnina and Leander Paes continue the Russian’s quest for a career grand slam of mixed doubles titles against Klaudia Jans-Ignatik and Santiago Gonzalez, and Galina Voskoboeva and Daniele Bracciali face Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi. Three Indians out of eight, that is.
And in the juniors
Both Liam Broady and Kyle Edmund are still alive and well in the boys’ singles, Josh Ward-Hibbert got the chance to warm up Rafael Nadal on Monday, and Broady and Ward-Hibbert, top seeds in the boys doubles, are also still in it, as is Kyle Edmund (playing with Israeli Bar Tzuf Botzer), and Luke Bambridge (playing with Japan’s Kaichi Uchida).
Come back tomorrow for…
On Philippe Chatrier: Kanepi v Sharapova, Almagro v Nadal.
On Suzanne Lenglen: Shvedova v Kvitova, Ferrer v Murray.
On Court 1: John and Patrick McEnroe, Martina Navratilova and Jana Novotna.
On Court 2: Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis.
On Court 14: Kyle Edmund, Liam Broady, and then Broady and Ward-Hibbert v Edmund and Botzer.
Court 17: Eugenie Bouchard v Anett Kontaveit (ones to watch), Luke Bambridge.