Nadal & Murray Join Federer & Djokovic in Semis

French Open 2011
By Hiland Doolittle, June 2nd, 2011

It seems an eternity since the top four seeds converged in the semifinals of a major. The clay at Roland Garros has proven helpful to the top four seeds and four of the best players to play the game. In Friday’s semifinals, top seed Rafa Nadal will face Andy Murray while third seed Roger Federer faces second seed, Novak Djokovic, in two intriguing semifinals.

Djokovic will be aiming to capture his 43rd straight win in 2011 on the way to his amazing 8th title of the year. Djokovic has had the easiest route to the semis. Due to an injury to Fabio Fognini, Novak received a walkover in the quarters. He has had four days to rest and prepare. Federer will be hoping he has lost his edge.

Federer ovecame hometown favorite Gael Monfils in straight sets and has yet to lose a set in Paris. The winner of 16 Grand Slam tournaments has quietly gone about his work in an efficient way and now has a long desired match against the tour’s hottest player.

For Djokovic to top John McEnroe’s longest streak of wins at the beginning of a season he will have to play through Federer and then the winner of the Nadal – Murray semifinal. The Serb’s newfound commitment to excellence seems to have started with his play in winning the Davis Cup for his country.

Federer and Djokovic have played 22 times with the Swiss winning 13 of those matches, but Djokovic has won the last three matches. Federer bristles at the implication that his career is winding down and that he will never win another Grand Slam. The man has reached a record 28 straight Grand Slam quarterfinals.

On Wednesday, Rafa Nadal dispatched the only man to have beaten him at Roland Garros, Robin Soderling. The outcome was never in doubt in the 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (3) although the match had the feel of a heavyweight title bout. Nadal’s ability to keep Soderling on the move nullified the Swede’s big forehand.

In the other Wednesday semifinal, Scotsman Andy Murray overcame a competitive run by 30-year old Juan Ignacio Chela, 7-6 (2), 7-5, 6-2. Murray has had to overcome some tough obstacles on the way to the semis but Chela figured to be a relatively easy out. The fiery Argentine came up with many spectacular retrieves and converted those to stunning winners.

Murray and Nadal have faced off 14 times with Rafa winning ten matches. He has also won the last two times the two have played. Both players have deep arsenals of offensive weapons. Murray is regarded as one of the best returners of serve on the tour.

Murray seems more focused than earlier in the year and will be a formidable semifinal opponent to Nadal who not only looks to claim his sixth Roland Garros title but also retain his number one ranking. Friday promises to be a day of highlight film clips and heavy competition. We picked Murray to win the event at the start and we see no reason to change our pick at this time.

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