French Open 2015 Semi-finals Preview Djokovic Vs Murray Wawrinka Vs Tsonga

French Open

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The French Open semi-finals 2015 feature form players Novak Djokovic (1) and Andy Murray (3) going head to head, and the surprise springers Stan Wawrinka (8) and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga doing battle. The Tennis review previews the action and predicts the winners. 

Novak Djokovic (1) Vs Andy Murray (3)

Novak Djokovic was by far and away the most impressive player in the Clay lead ups to Roland Garros, winning the ATP 1000 events Monte-Carlo and Rome. the two tournaments most similar conditions-wise to Roland Garros. In the semi-finals he will take on the player who was the next most impressive, Andy Murray, who won in the faster conditions of Madrid, beating Nadal in the final. The Scot also won his first ever career clay court title , the ATP 250 Munich BMW Open.

Djokovic has also been the most impressive of the four semi-finalists coming into the last four. The world No.1 has not dropped a set and defeated nine time champion Rafael Nadal in the last eight, dropping just nine games. Murray, meanwhile, has been solid, and at times brilliant, but has dropped three sets, and let a match point slip in the third set of his last eight match versus David Ferrer before winning in four.

Djokovic comes into the last eight meeting with the most confidence, and in a match up which he is currently dominating that factor could prove crucial. Djokovic’s victory over Nadal was his first in seven attempts and the biggest hurdle, bar actually  converting championship point this Sunday, in the way of his quest to complete the career Grand Slam. While Nadal may be a shadow of his former self, a fact tactfully acknowledged by the Djokovic camp after the win, the Serbian was not assured of victory in a French Open match up in which the mental side of tennis played a greater part than the physical one. However, now, with the demons of losses to Nadal at Roland Garros the past three years banished,  the tournament is now Djokovic’s to lose.

Murray, meanwhile, achieved another milestone of his own, in beating Ferrer for the first time on Clay, but like his clay court milestones this season, it pales in significance compared to Djokovic’s. Also, Murray did not achieve his latest Clay court milestone with the panache of his rival- the Scot struggled to hold serve against Ferrer and played a patchy match against a player well below his best form. Worryingly the world No. 3 let a match point slip in the third set, and though he won 6-0 in the fourth, he cannot afford such sloppiness against Djokovic who will not go away once back into a match.

Djokovic and Murray have not met on clay since their epic match at Rome 2011, and they meet again at a time when both are arguably playing their best tennis in their careers on the red stuff since then. The two have never met in a Slam when both are at their respective peaks- one has either been fatigued, slumping or on the road back from injury- and so this match should be a little different to the usual defensive, stamina-sapping, at times turgid offerings these two have dished up over the years. Murray has been playing some aggressive minded tennis this season, much like he did in 2012-2013, and Djokovic has been better than ever at turning defense into offense and forcing the issue during long rallies.

Djokovic leads the head to head 18-8, leads 2-0 on Clay and has won 10 of their last 11 matches. Three of their last four slam matches (Australian Open 2013, 2015, U.S Open 2014) have seen a typically exhausting first couple of sets, split between the two, followed by the fitter Djokovic finding his stride and running away with the last two.

That pattern could play out tomorrow, but most likely Djokovic will win in straight sets. The Serbian is playing at several leagues above the level any player Murray has faced in his 15 clay court matches this year, is a far more accomplished player on Clay, and also knows how to win big matches at Roland Garros and is on a mission to win his biggest one yet.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (14) versus Stan Wawrinka (8)

Tsonga and Wawrinka provided the biggest upsets of the men’s draw so far in the quarter-finals with Tsonga beating the fancied Kei Nishikori and Wawrinka blowing Federer away in straight sets. Tsonga is on something of an upset binge, defeating Monte-Carlo finalist Tomas Berdych in the last sixteen.

The head to head between the two is tied at 3-3 with five of those matches played on Clay. Wawrinka leads that head to head 3-2, and the two are tied at 1-1 at Roland Garros, both matches going the distance.

Both players are shot-makers, play aggressive tennis, and have big serves. Wawrinka has the biggest weapon of the two, his backhand, which will give him the advantage in longer rallies, but Tsonga has a big weapon, too- the French crowd.

Tsonga has also been to the semi-finals of Roland Garros before, in 2013 on the back of a convincing win over Roger Federer. Unfortunately, he froze on his last visit to the final four, failing to show up against Ferrer, a factor that could motivate him this time as he tries to make that nop-show up to the home crowd.

The crowd or experience could help win the match for Tsonga if  matters go down to the wire, but if Wawrinka executes his superior clay court game  and can take control of the match then the Swiss should move into his second slam final.

Commentary by Christian Deverille

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