French Open – Men’s Semi Finals (Friday 8th June 2012)

Rafael Nadal (1) vs David Ferrer (6)

Friday’s first semi final is an all-Spanish affair between overwhelming tournament favourite Rafael Nadal and sixth seed David Ferrer. The pair have met twenty times on tour, with Nadal coming out on top in sixteen of those encounters. He is also unbeaten in their last six meetings and hasn’t dropped a single set in any of those matches, not to mention having not dropped a set in this year’s tournament. Fair to say it is quite a tall order for Ferrer!

In fairness to Ferrer, he’s been playing some good tennis over the last ten days or so and probably doesn’t get the credit his play and overall success deserves. Regular readers of my BETDAQ column will now how highly I rate Ferrer (having tipped him successfully twice already this season) and he was one of my two ‘Back to Lay’ selections pre-tournament. For those people that took my advice, I strongly advise you lock in a profit at this stage, given his price has more or less halved since the tournament began. Sadly, I think this is where his tournament may come to an end. Ferrer has arguably done more than is expected of him since last Sunday week. He’s advanced to the last four which surpasses his seeding of six and beat the world number four in the process. Indeed if the ATP rankings were compiled based on clay court tournaments alone, Ferrer would be the fourth ranked player on tour.

Unfortunately, I genuinely can’t offer an angle whereby Ferrer defeats Nadal tomorrow. All of Ferrer’s strengths are surpassed by Nadal in each and every department, which is perhaps why Ferrer hasn’t been able to get the better of his compatriot in most of his recent attempts. In their Barcelona final at the back end of April however, Ferrer was a couple of points here and there away from at least pinching a set of Nadal and based on that, I think he could go one better tomorrow. For me, there’s not a great deal of value in either backing Rafa for the win or the 3-0 score. In light of this, I’d be inclined to take the 4.3 (100/30) on Nadal to emerge victorious by three sets to one.

Selection: Rafael Nadal
Score Prediction: 3-1 @ 4.3

Novak Djokovic (1) vs Roger Federer (3)

The second semi final on Friday has the credentials to be an absolute epic. World number one Novak Djokovic takes on Swiss third seed Roger Federer in what could prove to be the match of the tournament. At this same stage twelve months ago, Federer prevailed in near darkness to record a famous win over the Serbian but I fancy Djokovic to turn the tables on Friday afternoon (or evening if the match lasts as long as I anticipate!)

Djokovic has more than ridden his luck this tournament, coming back from two sets down against Italian Andreas Seppi and fending off FOUR match points against home favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, before turning a seemingly inevitable defeat into an unlikely victory. All of this bodes well for the top seed. Under normal circumstances, I’d be viewing two consecutive five set marathons at Roland Garros as a huge negative for a player entering a semi final. Based on past experience, lengthy matches for Djokovic in Grand Slams seem to have little or no effect on him. That said, Federer’s progress through the draw has been far from serene. Having dropped sets in both his 2nd and 3rd round matches, Federer was taken to four sets in round 4 by lucky loser David Goffin and he could so easily have had a two set deficit to overcome. As it was, the Swiss maestro was able to make his class tell against his plucky opponent. Juan Martin Del Potro ran him an awful lot closer. Federer will have no problem admitting he was most definitely under the cosh against the Argentinean, even uncharacteristically shouting out to the crowd after some disruption during a point. Indeed had it not been for Del Potro’s troublesome knee, Federer could be already getting in some valuable grass court practice ahead of Wimbledon in a fortnight’s time.

As it is, Roger has the man mountain that is Novak Djokovic to overcome and whilst he has every chance, I just feel the Serbian will have a little too much in the tank for Federer. I haven’t been overly impressed by Novak’s form during the clay court season. Whilst he doesn’t seem to have the air of invincibility about his play, he certainly hasn’t lost the knack of grinding out wins from difficult situations and I think Friday could be such an occasion. Conditions are also expected to be a little gusty tomorrow which I think will suit Djokovic more so than Federer. In summary, it could be another late finish and I fully expect a marathon match that Djokovic may JUST be able to sneak.

Selection: Novak Djokovic
Score Prediction: 3-2 @ 5.9

Follow Chris on Twitter @cdquinn86

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