Everybody should be given Friday off. And no, not just because three-day weekends are the best, but because it will be a darn shame if the working folks miss out on what will be a wonderful day of semifinal action on the men's side of the draw.
As always, the semifinals will be rife with superstar talent, and just for fun, an upstart has joined the ranks. Believe me, folks, you won't want to miss this.
So call in sick. Work from home. Or get a job writing about sports. Do what you have to do, but don't miss these matches.
Where: Roland Garros, Paris, France
When: Friday at 8 a.m. ET
Watch: Tennis Channel (7 a.m. - 11 a.m. ET), NBC (11 a.m. - 2 p.m. ET)
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra/TC Plus
Note: Full schedule available at Roland Garros' official website.
The easy way to write this section would be to simply say that Rafael Nadal will do what he always does and win this year's French Open. But I'm not so sure that will be the outcome this year.
I am pretty sure he'll beat Andy Murray, however. Here's why:
- Nadal is 14-5 all-time against Murray, 5-0 versus him on clay and won the only meeting between the two at the French Open in 2011.
- Nadal has dropped one set in the entire tournament, while Murray has lost five.
- Murray's game has always translated better to grass or the hard courts. Nadal, meanwhile, is to clay courts as Pablo Picasso was to paint.
- Nadal basically has honorary French citizenship after his eight titles in the last nine years at Roland Garros, while Murray didn't exactly appeal to the locals when he knocked out Gael Monfils. Nadal will have the crowd on his side.
- Oh, did I mention Nadal is 64-1 all-time at the French Open? Because he is, and it's insane.
Just don't tell Murray any of the above, because he doesn't care. Many folks may not have expected Murray to make it this far, but he's not happy just reaching the semifinals, as he told the Press Association, via The Guardian:
It’s definitely a big achievement, but that’s not what I came here to do. My goals are different and my expectations are different to a lot of people. I expect a lot of myself. I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well at these events, and thankfully I have done OK so far. There’s still hopefully a long way to go in the tournament.
No matter what he believes, Murray is still the underdog. But he's probably not as big of an underdog as Ernests Gulbis is against Novak Djokovic.
Djokovic is 4-1 against Gulbis and beat him on their only matchup on clay at the 2008 French Open. He's reached the semifinals at 15 of the last 16 Grand Slams. In those tournaments, he's reached 10 finals and won five titles. He's dropped just one set in this tournament and has now won 10 straight matchups, including besting Nadal at the Italian Open final.
And the man is having fun at Roland Garros, people—just look at him getting all crazy on Vine.
Gulbis is no pushover and is pretty hot, however. He's won nine matches in a row himself and dispatched of No. 4 seed Roger Federer and No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych in his past two matches. Perhaps he's finally putting it all together, as the Associated Press, via SI.com, writes:
Gulbis is 25 years old, comes from a wealthy family in Latvia and has underachieved for years. He attributes his lack of success on the tennis tour to a lifestyle in which partying meant more than winning.
All that, he has been saying recently, is changing.
'What took me so long? I think I was eating wrong. I had the wrong diet,' Gulbis said, jokingly referring to the gluten-free diet that Djokovic says made him a better player. 'My diet is full-on gluten. I like a lot of ketchup, a lot of unhealthy stuff.'
He jokes, but it is evident he is taking his tennis more seriously these days. It won't matter how serious he takes it against Djokovic, however, because the Djoker is simply on a different level at this point.
So, yes, the final we all want, the clash of the titans in today's game will happen—Nadal versus Djokovic. But no, I don't think the dominance of Nadal will continue. Nope, this year it will be Djokovic who finally earns a title at Roland Garros and gets his career Grand Slam.
But that's a topic for another article.
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