The French Open semifinals are underway, and while the opening match of the day contains two that are accustomed to playing in major finals, the second match between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and David Ferrer features two that have never played in a major final in their careers.
Both have yet to be tested at Roland Garros; neither have dropped a set throughout the French Open. Friday, both men will have to step it up a notch if they want to reach their first major final.
If either player wants to win, they're going to have to dictate the tempo of the match. Tsonga brings a power game with big serves and a great forehand. Ferrer has better stamina and can last longer if this match extends to five sets.
Here are some other keys for both players to advance to the final:
Although a Frenchman hasn't won this tournament in 30 years, Tsonga has the upper-hand when he plays in front of a home crowd. The fans have been with him every step of the way during the last two weeks and will be louder than ever in hopes that one of their own will be in the championship match.
Historically, Tsonga has not fared well at Roland Garros, only making it to the quarterfinals once before this year. But now that he has an opportunity to make his first Grand Slam final, the loyal french fans will give his opposition all that they can handle.
Tsonga Must Dominate First Serve
If Tsonga wants to take down the Spaniard Ferrer, then he has to utilize his first serve. He has the upper-hand when it comes to power, but so far, Tsonga hasn't shown it in the French Open. He was only able to serve three aces combined in his last two matches, allowing his opponent chances to return the opening serve.
Tsonga must place his first service ball well throughout the match as well. While he has won 81 percent of his first serve games, that number drops off dramatically if he faults and has to serve a second time (53 percent).
Don't Let Tsonga Come To The Net
Ferrer will have to time his drop shots well throughout this match. Any misplaced ball near the net can be taken advantage of by Tsonga. During his match with No. 2 seeded Roger Federer, Jo-Willy converted 15 out of 23 net points (65 percent) and broke Federer six times in the straight-set victory.
Ferrer has the stamina to last for long rallies and has the mobility to consistently move around the court. If Ferrer can continuously get balls deep and keep Tsonga away from the net, he gives himself a better chance to win.
Ferrer Must Keep Mistakes to a Minimum
In Tsonga's upset win over Federer, the world No. 2 was forced into 34 unforced errors, 12 more than Tsonga. Federer gave points away during his quarterfinal match.
Ferrer isn't known to make that many big mistakes. In his quarterfinal win, the Spaniard only committed 18 unforced errors, half as much as Federer had.
If Ferrer doesn't give points away, the score will remain tight throughout and will keep Tsonga from gaining momentum during the match.