Day 10 of the 2014 French Open brought plenty of excitement, as four matches determined which athletes advanced to the semifinals at Roland Garros.
Notable action included Novak Djokovic winning his quarterfinal in straight sets and Maria Sharapova regrouping after a poor first set to battle back and win the match.
Let’s break down the quarterfinal matches from Tuesday and talk about what the results mean going forward.
|Men's Quarterfinal Results||Score|
|(2) Novak Djokovic def. (8) Milos Raonic||7-5, 7-6(5), 6-4|
|(18) Ernests Gulbis def. (6) Tomas Berdych||6-3, 6-2, 6-4|
|Women's Quarterfinal Results||Score|
|(7) Maria Sharapova def. Garbine Muguruza||1-6, 7-5, 6-1|
|(18) Eugenie Bouchard def. (14) Carla Suarez Navarro||7-6(4), 2-6, 7-5|
Novak Djokovic (2) def. Milos Raonic (8): 7-5, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4
Raonic entered the match hoping to be the first Canadian man in 91 years to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam, according to RolandGarros.com's Kate Battersby. Ultimately, he fell short, but not before he pushed Djokovic in a match that was about as difficult as a straight-sets victory can be.
The Canadian managed 21 aces in the match. Unfortunately, he could never string enough quality points together to seriously challenge the world No. 2.
Who Will Advance to the Men's Final?
Prior to the French Open, Raonic had never reached the quarterfinals of a major tournament, falling in the fourth round twice at the Australian Open and twice at the U.S. Open. Reaching the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time is no small feat, but ultimately, he was no match for Djokovic and his quest to complete the career Grand Slam.
Djokovic, a six-time major winner, has never won the French Open. He reached the final in 2012 before falling to Rafael Nadal in four sets.
He is playing like a man on a mission—probably because he has one—and has only ceded one set this tournament. His next opponent will be 18th-seeded Ernests Gulbis. If the Serbian keeps playing the way he has been, he seems destined to face Nadal in a rematch of the 2012 final.
Ernests Gulbis (18) def. Tomas Berdych (6): 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
Ernests Gulbis, the only Latvian man ever to play in a Grand Slam, won comfortably on Tuesday to advance to the semifinals of the French Open by disposing of sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych in straight sets.
Gulbis felt sharp from the start, and he was able to effectively utilize every aspect of his game, per RolandGarros.com’s Dan Imhoff:
"It’s very special. Today was the best match of the tournament, I was doing everything right. Tomas got a bit upset that I was hitting all of the lines. I’m sorry, but that’s part of the game."
Tuesday’s quarterfinal victory is the furthest Gulbis has advanced in any major tournament, and it’s just the third time in 27 appearances that he has advanced past the third round of a Grand Slam. One more victory is all that stands between him and the final.
Unfortunately for Gulbis, that obstacle is Djokovic.
Gulbis can take solace in the fact that he has won nine matches in a row and is undefeated in his last six matches against seeded opponents in majors. He is also undefeated in France this year, winning both the ATP Tour Open 13 in Marseille and the ATP Open de Nice Cote d’Azur in Nice. But for the Latvian to oust Djokovic, he will have to once again be on point with all his shots.
Maria Sharapova (7) def. Garbine Muguruza: 1-6, 7-5, 6-1
Perhaps Sharapova underestimated Muguruza. She shouldn’t have, considering the Spaniard upset defending champion Serena Williams in the second round days earlier.
Nonetheless, unseeded Muguruza got the best of her opponent early and often, winning the first set 6-1, as Sharapova committed four double faults and 13 unforced errors. Muguruza was one set away from becoming the first player to beat Serena Williams and Sharapova at a Grand Slam tournament, per The New York Times.
But credit Sharapova, a four-time major winner, who, for the second match in a row, put the first set behind her and won a hard-fought second set before cruising through the third to win the match. Muguruza’s game unraveled a bit, as she committed a combined 45 unforced errors in the final two sets.
Muguruza said the match came down to experience, per Naila-Jean Meyers of The New York Times:
"I need more experience in these kind of matches. I think I played very good in three sets, but in the important moments I need to improve my mentality."
With the victory, Sharapova, who is 17-1 on clay this year, has reached the French Open semifinals four years in a row and has shown incredible consistency in Paris.
But let’s not get too far ahead. This tournament has shown that upsets happen daily, and nobody is assured a spot in the finals. Sharapova, No. 4 Simona Halep and No. 10 Sara Errani are the only remaining top-10 seeds in the tournament.
Eugenie Bouchard (18) def. Carla Suarez Navarro (14): 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 7-5
If Sharapova’s performance was resilient, what was Bouchard’s effort? Despite trailing 2-5 in the first set and 1-4 in the third, the Canadian managed to erase both deficits and earn an improbable match victory for her 10th straight win on clay.
Bouchard expressed her pride and exhaustion in an interview with Imhoff:
"For me it was such a physical and emotional battle. I was down. I was always coming back and fighting and trying and really kind of a grind on clay. I'm proud of this, but I will continue."
It doesn’t get any easier for Bouchard, as she will see favorite Sharapova in the semifinals. But if she plays like she did in the latter half of the first and third sets and Sharapova lays another first-set egg, Bouchard will have a great opportunity to advance past the semifinal round of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career.
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