And then there were four.
The 2013 French Open has reached the semifinals stage, with four of the top six seeds remaining. With the title within reaching distance, however, the pressure has elevated and the remaining players can taste immortality.
The question is, who will emerge victorious in the semifinals and set up a clash in the final for the ages?
In our first of two semifinal matchups, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will look to make his second career Grand Slam Finals appearance. The advantage that Tsonga will hold over his opposition is as influential as one could find.
The athletic dynamo is French, thus earning the crowd's undying support.
On the opposite end is David Ferrer of Spain, who continues to fight to join the ranks of the elite. Despite routinely beating everyone not named Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, however, Ferrer has never made a finals appearance in a Grand Slam event.
One can't help but assume that Ferrer will give everything he has to change that and defeat his home-country opposition—the question is, can he do it?
Tsonga Pursuing History
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has long been known as the player on the brink of making the leap to elite. At the 2013 French Open, however, Tsonga is on the brink of making something else.
The last time a Frenchman won the French Open was 1983, when Yannick Noah defeated Mats Wilander in the final. 30 years later, Tsonga has a chance to follow in his footsteps and win his first career Grand Slam event in front of his home crowd.
The question is, will he come through and make history?
Even if he fails to win the title, Tsonga can become the first Frenchman to reach the French Open final since Henri Leconte in 1988. That 25-year drought has some writing French tennis off as all but irrelevant.
Defeating Roger Federer in the quarterfinals proved Tsonga can get over his mental hump, but making the ultimate leap is an entirely different story.
David Ferrer Breaking Through
David Ferrer has made six consecutive appearances in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament. Including the 2013 French Open, Ferrer has earned three consecutive berths in the semifinals of a Grand Slam event.
In all of his glory, however, has come one gut-wrenching truth—Ferrer has never reached the final of a Grand Slam.
Ferrer can be crowned as the best of the rest, as he's dominated opponents that go by a name other than Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray. Unfortunately, those are the "Fearsome Four," per say, that have ruled the world rankings for years on end.
Reaching the French Open final can change everything for Ferrer.
While some break through during their early years, Ferrer has made his mark at the age of 31. His stamina is revered, lateral quickness unparalleled and tiring precision has led to a resume that the average player would beg for.
If we know Ferrer and his competitive nature, however, he can't wait to break through and reach the 2013 French Open final.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga may just be the most athletic player on the ATP Tour, serving powerfully and leaping across the court with aggression and explosiveness. David Ferrer is one of the most physically fit players, using his world-class agility and impenetrable stamina to return anything sent his way.
The question is, who holds the paper edge?
On clay, Tsonga's power is often neutralized, which is why he had lost in the fourth round or earlier in every year prior to 2012. Last year, however, Tsonga broke through and reached the quarterfinals by displaying a newfound understanding of spin and touch.
In 2013, we've seen his best play yet.
If there's one thing we know about Ferrer, it's that pushing back to the baseline is the perfect way to lose a match. His ability to hit long shots and keep his man away from the net enables him to force them into constant changes of direction.
It doesn't take a doctor to know that you'll be worn down by match's end.
When it comes down to it, Tsonga's tendency to power the ball could be his ultimate undoing. While he may not be the strongest man on the tour, Ferrer plays the angles as well as any tennis player in the world.
The question is, can Ferrer overcome Tsonga's home-court advantage?