Roland Garros 2013: Breaking Down Men's Semifinals Matches at French Open

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistJune 6, 2013

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal meet again.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal meet again.Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Four men are left standing at this year's French Open, with at least one unlikely competitor headed to the finals at Roland Garros.

Parity is a word seldom used to describe the men's tennis division, as the "Big Four" of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray typically battle amongst themselves for every Grand Slam title.

With Murray out of commission and Federer knocked out earlier than expected, two fresh faces have entered the final four. This will mark the first time since 2010's Wimbledon that an outsider snatches a finals bid from one of the four marquee names.

But don't worry, two of the top guns will battle on the clay courts, with one of the titans of tennis moving on to the title bout.


Novak Djokovic (No. 1) vs. Rafael Nadal (No. 3)

This is the matchup everyone wants to see. The SportsCenter Twitter feed sure seems stoked:

Djokovic has captured five of the past nine Grand Slam titles, but Nadal has owned Roland Garros, winning the past three French Opens and seven of the last eight.

These two men have faced off in each of the major four championships, with Djokovic besting Nadal on three occasions. Of course, his one shortcoming came at the French Open, the only major he has not claimed during his illustrious career.

Nadal did not start the Open as the usual dominating force of nature, losing the opening set in each of his first two matchups. Fabio Fognini also gave him a run for his money in the third round, but Nadal has since turned on his cruise control, winning his past three matchups in straight sets.

Djokovic has also labored more than anticipated, and yet he has dropped just one set during the tournament.

Although Nadal owns the red court, Djokovic must find a way to overpower his adversary, and strong serving is the best place to start. That's easier said than done, especially with Nadal now looking back to full strength from knee woes that sidelined him for months.

Nadal has won 12 of their 15 bouts on clay, so it will take a flawlessly aggressive effort from Djokovic to finally get the monkey off his back at Roland Garros.


David Ferrer (No. 4) vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (No. 6)

This contest does not hold the allure of Djokovic vs. Nadal, but much is at stake for two men looking to earn their first-ever Grand Slam title appearance.

David Ferrer has always sat just on the cusp of greatness, trailing behind the major stars. But with Murray not competing and Djokovic and Nadal both on the other side of the bracket, this is the perfect chance for Ferrer to strike.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has also shown flashes of brilliance, appearing in three prior Grand Slam semifinals. This is, however, the furthest the hometown hero has gotten at Roland Garros.

The 23-year-old French native stunned the world by knocking out Federer, who was heavily favored to meet Nadal or Djokovic in the final round. 

This contest could never match the other in name recognition, but it could play out to be just as exciting. Tsonga wields a powerful serve to go along with his daring style, but Ferrer excels at returning serves.

Inconsistency often plagues Tsonga, but it's hard to see him no-showing in arguably the biggest match of his career to date.