The Paris clay claimed a plethora of big names in the first week of play at Roland Garros, including defending women's champion Serena Williams and the other two top seeds in the women's draw.
However, the heavy hitters on the men's side are still in the mix heading into the tournament's final weekend, setting the stage for a thrilling finish.
Below we'll review how tennis' top stars have fared in their most recent outings and what lies ahead.
|Women's Semifinal Results||Score|
|(4) Simona Halep def. (28) Andrea Petkovic||6-2, 7-6(4)|
|(7) Maria Sharapova def. (18) Eugenie Bouchard||4-6, 7-5, 6-2|
|Men's Quarterfinal Results||Score|
|(1) Rafael Nadal def. (5) David Ferrer||4-6, 6-4, 6-0, 6-1|
|(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|
|(7) Andy Murray def. (23) Gael Monfils||6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 1-6, 6-0|
Rafael Nadal Rallies, Improves to 64-1 at Roland Garros
The King of Clay looked to be in trouble early in Wednesday's quarterfinal clash with countryman David Ferrer, struggling immensely on his second serve and committing 15 unforced errors in the opening frame en route to falling into a one-set-to-love hole.
But the 28-year-old was unfazed by the slow start, fighting off three break points and converting on his only break chance of the second set to level the match at a set apiece.
Booming with confidence, Nadal put the pedal to the floor in the third set, winning 25 of 34 points on his way to winning 6-0 in 26 minutes.
Afterward, the Spaniard admitted that the scoreline put him at ease, per Roland Garros on Twitter:
A demoralized Ferrer provided little resistance in the fourth set, bowing out 6-1 after just over a half an hour. The 32-year-old, who had beaten Nadal in two of their past three meetings, finished with 12 more winners for the match but also tallied an eye-popping 50 unforced errors on the day.
For Ferrer, the result is an improvement over last year's French Open final, in which he lost in straight sets to Nadal. However, the world No. 5 will be disappointed that he wasn't able to capitalize on his strong start, per Roland Garros on Twitter:
Up next, Nadal will take on Andy Murray for a berth in what would be his fifth straight French Open final and the ninth of his career.
Despite boasting a 5-0 career head-to-head record against Murray on clay, including a three-set win over the Scotsman in Rome earlier this year, Nadal isn't ready to look ahead, per Roland Garros on Twitter:
The last time the two met at Roland Garros, Nadal bounced Murray from the semifinals with a straight-sets win in 2011. While Murray has clearly improved on the clay surface, it would certainly be surprising if he's able to take more than one set off Nadal in Friday's semifinal.
Andy Murray Maintains Composure En Route to Semis
It wasn't easy, but two-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray is back in the French Open semifinals for just the second time in his career after dispatching mercurial Frenchman Gael Monfils in five sets in their quarterfinal meeting on Wednesday.
Despite going the distance, the match proved anticlimactic as Murray ran away with the deciding set 6-0, as noted by The New York Times' Ben Rothenberg:
A match that defied darkness and logic. Andy Murray beats Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 1-6, 6-0. It's Murray-Nadal in the semifinals. #RG14— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) June 4, 2014
Momentum made its way to each player's side of the net over the course of the first four sets, but it rarely swung back, as Murray took the first two sets comfortably (6-4, 6-1) only to watch Monfils win the next two by identical scorelines.
Both players connected on plenty of winners and squandered numerous chances to break, but Murray's groundstrokes were much cleaner in the longer rallies and his play at the net was sensational. Both proved to be the difference. The world No. 8 finished with 48 unforced errors to 61 for Monfils and was an astounding 25-of-33 on net points (76 percent), compared to Monfils' 12-of-21 performance (57 percent).
Which underdog has the best shot to crash the men's final?
Staying patient, cutting back on the unforced errors and winning points at the net will all be critical to Murray's chances in his upcoming showdown with Nadal.
We're talking about the greatest clay-court champion of all time in Rafa, and the only way to top him on his preferred surface is to get ahead and allow for doubt to enter his mind. So much of Nadal's game and success revolves around his confidence, and, unsurprisingly, he's most vulnerable when he's trailing on the scoreboard.
Murray's big advantage will be that he's coming in with little expectation. Having never reached the final of a clay-court tournament and having lost all five of his previous clay-court matchups with Nadal, Murray will be playing with little to lose on Friday.
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