The 2013 French Open will reach its climax on Friday as the two overwhelming favorites in the men's draw go head-to-head in one of two men's semifinals matchups that will determine who advances to Sunday's tournament final (via Roland Garros):
Men's SF matchups: Nadal 19-15 vs. Djokovic, though Nole won last meeting on clay in Monte Carlo this year. Ferrer 2-1 vs. Tsonga #RG13— Roland Garros (@rolandgarros) June 5, 2013
Reigning champion and seven-time winner Rafael Nadal will take on arch rival and current world No. 1 Novak Djokovic on Day 13 at Roland Garros in the most anticipated showdown at the season's second Grand Slam.
In what will be a rematch of 2012's men's final, Nadal and Djokovic will square off on Court Philippe Chatrier in a contest that could potentially change how each player is remembered when the time comes to look back on their respective careers.
Meanwhile, on the other half of the draw, two overlooked contenders in David Ferrer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will battle on center court. Ferrer has never reached a Grand Slam final while Tsonga will look to ride a heavy boost from the French supporters in the crowd into his second career major final.
With the stage set, here we'll get you ready for Friday's can't-miss men's semifinal action at the 2013 French Open.
Where: Roland Garros, Paris, France
When: Friday, June 7 at 7 a.m. ET (via RolandGarros.com)
Watch: Tennis Channel, NBC (coverage begins at 11 a.m. ET on NBC)
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
David Ferrer (4) vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (6)
Two players who have yet to drop a single set at the French Open this summer, David Ferrer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will square off in the semifinals on Friday.
What do you think will happen on Friday?
Fourth-seeded David Ferrer is just one win away from earning his first-ever Grand Slam final berth this summer, while Tsonga is soaking up the semifinal atmosphere in his home country for the first time.
Despite flying under the radar, the 31-year-old Ferrer has been outstanding at Roland Garros over the past two weeks. Many feel Ferrer will have the edge in Friday's semifinal considering he took out Tsonga in straight sets in their only clay-court meeting in Rome three years ago.
But that was ages ago, and Ferrer won't be able to win on reputation alone. He'll have to up his game in order to dispose of the talented Frenchman on Friday (via Roland Garros):
Tsonga: "Why can I beat Ferrer? Because I hit harder, I serve better and I've become more consistent and have improved my endurance." #RG13— Roland Garros (@rolandgarros) June 4, 2013
As mentioned, Tsonga is making his first career French Open semifinal appearance on Friday after upending 2009 champion Roger Federer in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. Like Ferrer, he's yet to drop a set on the red clay of Paris.
The 28-year-old world No. 8, Tsonga has not reached a major final since the 2008 Australian Open, which he lost to Novak Djokovic. But make no mistake, Tsonga has all the tools to break through at a Grand Slam event, especially at his home Slam at Roland Garros.
Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Rafael Nadal (3)
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will meet for the 35th time in their careers on Friday, and for the second straight year at the French Open (via Roland Garros):
Nadal says that playing Djokovic is always a challenge and a pleasure at the same time. #RG13— Roland Garros (@rolandgarros) June 5, 2013
Both stars are playing exceptional tennis coming into the colossal semifinal showdown, having won their respective quarterfinal matches in straight sets. But Nadal is the slight favorite given his clay-court prowess. Rafa has won this tournament seven times in eight tries, and boasts a career singles record of 57-1 at Roland Garros.
Who do you like in Friday's semifinal clash?
But if there's a man capable of upending Rafa on his quest for an eighth title in Paris this summer, it's Djokovic, who has taken three of their past six clay-court meetings, including the Monte Carlo Masters final back in April.
Nadal leads the head-to-head series 19-15 and 12-3 on clay, but Djokovic is an all-court player, and a motivated one considering he only needs a French Open title to complete the career Grand Slam.
Djokovic will have to dig deep in order to win seeing as he is 0-4 all-time against Nadal at Roland Garros. But regardless of the result, fans are guaranteed phenomenal tennis every time these two get together.
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