After an intense semifinals battle, Spanish star David Ferrer defeated French phenom Jo-Wilfried Tsonga by a score of 6-1, 7-6, 6-2 to advance to the finals of the 2013 French Open against fellow countryman Rafael Nadal.
While this match didn’t live up to the expectations set by the day’s earlier semifinals instant classic between Nadal and Novak Djokovic, this meeting of unheralded stars was excellent to watch.
The Roland Garros official Twitter account was still excited about this matchup:
Not only did Ferrer earn the chance to advance to the finals and contend for his first career Grand Slam title, the win over Tsonga marks the first time in his career that the 31-year-old star has ever advanced to the finals at all.
Better late than never.
Tsonga clearly had the home-court advantage in this matchup, but it was the superior talent and fundamental play of Ferrer that ultimately proved to be too much for his opponent on Friday.
After a wild day at Court Philippe Chatrier, this is how the three-set match played out with complete analysis from across the web.
Ferrer Dominates Tsonga in First Set
Many tennis experts felt that Tsonga had the distinct advantage in this matchup because of his French roots and Roland Garros giving his half of the draw the prime time slot on Friday, but the epic men’s semifinals match before it caused Court Philippe Chatrier to be half empty at the start of the match.
Without the support of the French fans, Tsonga was utterly destroyed by Ferrer 6-1 in the first set and looked to have no answer for the speed and fundamental style of his Spanish opponent.
Roland Garros shares just how fast Ferrer handled Tsonga in the first set:
Tsonga failed to use his overpowering serve or attempt to wear out the shorter Ferrer by making him run the baseline, and in turn Ferrer was a master of moving laterally and the French star could get nothing by his opponent.
The crowd began to file back into the arena surrounding the main court as the first set drew toward a close. Tsonga was lucky enough to gain a point, but it was all Ferrer in the first and the Spaniard took the commanding lead in the match.
Ferrer Stuns Tsonga is the Second Set
The second set couldn’t have looked any different than the first, as Tsonga opened up play stealing the first three points and making Ferrer look like the inferior player in the process.
With the crowd back in their seats and in the corner of their hometown star for the second (h/t Roland Garros), Tsonga showed how his size and strength advantage can trump all the speed and tenacity of Ferrer:
As fast as Tsonga took charge of the second set, though, Ferrer reeled the match back in his favor and won three straight points to even the score. After exchanging the next two points to draw even at 4-4, the two talented players once again exchanged fifth and sixth points to make this an excellent matchup.
While it was Ferrer that eventually stole the final point and the set 7-6, Roland Garros’ Twitter was right about this hard-fought battle in the second proving that neither man would go down in this matchup without fighting with everything they have:
Ferrer looked strong at the end of this set to make up for the slow start, but with Tsonga still playing well, it was clear that the third set wasn’t going to be an easy win for the Spanish star.
Ferrer Closes the Door on Tsonga
After a heartbreaking loss in the second set, Tsonga came out and looked flat in the third set, allowing Ferrer jump to an early lead using his elite return ability and willingness to make his French counterpart work laterally along the baseline.
There were times when Tsonga found a rhythm or hit a nice shot in the third, but the speed and non-stop pace of Ferrer was enough to stifle any momentum the French star could gain against him.
Tsonga was able to steal two games against Ferrer in the final set, but it was clear from the home-crowd favorite’s demeanor that he was not confident in his game.
The Spanish star saw that weakness, continued to attack relentlessly and won the final set 6-2.
Roland Garros captured an amazing photo of Ferrer at the moment of victory:
Ferrer stepped up his game on the final point and cashed in his chance to advance to the finals by fulfilling his life-long goal of making the finals of a Grand Slam tournament. The straight-set win also signals the fact that the Spanish star hasn't dropped a set once at the 2013 French Open.
Rafael Nadal Awaits in the Finals
After beating Tsonga and advancing to the finals of the 2013 French Open, Ferrer will now have the unfortunate honor of trying to dethrone the king of clay, Rafael Nadal.
Nadal beat world No. 1 Novak Djokovic by a score of 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, 9-7 in an instant classic to advance to the finals and defended his crown as the greatest player of the modern era at Roland Garros.
The official Twitter account of the French Open venue offered the first glimpse of the finals-bound Nadal after the victory:
While Ferrer is undoubtedly on fire after beating Tsonga, there is little doubt that Nadal will be the favorite in this matchup. Nadal may have the distinctive edge, but Ferrer is as tenacious as they come and will leave every once of energy on the clay.
The only hope now is that Sunday’s men’s Nadal vs. Ferrer matchup lives up to the expectations of being a Grand Slam tournament and isn’t a one-sided highlight reel for the French Open legend.
Tsonga was tough, but Nadal is in his own league.