2013 French Open: The Good and the Bad for David Ferrer's Semifinal Chances
Ferrer will play opposite of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who knocked off World No. 3 Roger Federer in a quarterfinal upset. This means that someone outside of the "Big Four" in men's tennis (Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray) will compete in a Grand Slam final for the first time since the 2010 WImbledon Championships (Tomas Berdych lost to Nadal).
It will be Ferrer's sixth career semifinal at a Grand Slam. Unfortunately for the veteran, he is 0-5 in previous matches. He has to be considered one of the best players of all time not to have at least played in a major final to this point.
It's hasn't necessarily been a result of the occasion being too big for him or choking away matches. He has just been outplayed by a better player in those five previous semifinals.
This year, however, could be different for the World No. 5. Let's take a look at some things he has going both for and against him to get to the final Sunday in Paris.
Clay Court Is Best Surface
David Ferrer started his career as a clay-court specialist and while he has improved on the other surfaces, the clay is still his home.
The Spaniard has 259 of his career 519 match wins on clay and 11 of his 20 titles. While he has played more matches on clay than the other surface, he does have a much higher winning percentage.
Ferrer's game is mostly one of counter-punching and trying to outlast his opponents. He does not possess a lot of power, which goes hand in hand with a clay court.
Tsonga Instead of the "Big Four"
Ferrer's career head-to-head record against the other players he's gone up against in the semifinals (Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal) is 14-36. All of those players have a bigger power game and the Spaniard doesn't have a weapon to hurt them.
Even worse is Ferrer's record against Roger Federer. He has never defeated the 17-time grand slam champion in 14 career meetings, only winning four sets in those matches.
So when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga scored an upset over the Swiss superstar in the quarterfinals of Roland Garros, Ferrer's chances of winning in the semis skyrocketed.
Ferrer owns a 3-1 career record over Tsonga, including a convincing win in Rome on clay back in 2010. Clay courts are generally considered Tsonga's worst surface.
French Crowd Could Hurt
A French man has not won the singles title at Roland Garros since 1983 (Yannick Noah). The crowds really support their own in Paris and they are dying for another championship for one of them.
Tsonga poses the best chance to get that title in quite some time. Ferrer knows Court Philippe Chatrier will be rocking on Friday during their semifinal match.
The avid support for Tsonga seemed to bother Federer some on Tuesday, and the Spaniard will really need to focus so that does not happen to him. Tsonga has really learned to embrace the crowd lately as well, and usually gets up for the big matches.
Not Playing with Nothing to Lose
While not playing against a top four player is good for Ferrer in the x's and o's department, it might put a lot of pressure on him. He has never had this good of a chance to advance to the finals.
The Spaniard has done an amazing job over the last few years of becoming a top five player and staying there. This is mostly due to his work ethic and ability to beat players that he is supposed to beat.
But he has never had to beat a player ranked lower than him in a grand slam semifinal. This match is open for the taking, and it will be interesting to see how Ferrer responds.
Easy Road to the Semis for Both Players
Both players have been great form in this tournament, as all ten of their combined matches have resulted in straight-set wins. They will also get a full two days of rest for their match, which should lead to a great level of play.
But which player does this help more? it should be Ferrer, due to the three year age difference.
The Spaniard also had a much easier go of it in the quarterfinal match, as Robredo was coming off three straight five-set matches and didn't offer much resistance at all on Tuesday.
Tsonga- Riding Momentum or Proverbial Letdown?
Many times in sports when a player is coming off an incredible win or monumental accomplishment, there is a trend for them to suffer a letdown the next time out.
Tsonga's straight-set, comprehensive win over Roger Federer in the last round might have been the best match he's ever played. He will now look to build on that performance in the next round against Ferrer.
The Frenchman's two other big wins in grand slams (2008 Australian Open over Rafael Nadal and 2011 Wimbledon over Federer) resulted in losses the next round to Novak Djokovic.
This is a different situation for Tsonga, as he will be playing in a much more open match for the taking as Ferrer is not Djokovic. He also has the home crowd factor, and it will be interesting to see how he will respond.