Saturday 7 December 2019

Rafa proves ruthless as Djokovic gets lucky

Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal

Before this French Open semi-final match-up it had been all about the dizzying numbers and statistics, but once great foes Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal stepped on to the Roland Garros centre court, all that mattered was both men's preternatural ability to strike a small yellow ball.

Yesterday, it was Nadal's swinging, looping, whip-crack style which prevailed over Federer's finesse and near- perfect timing as he reached his 12th Roland Garros final (6-3, 6-4, 6-2).

The Spaniard had never lost to Federer in their five previous French Open meetings, but hadn't beaten the Swiss in their last five matches overall, a run stretching back five years.

Something had to give.

Simply put, the swirling, gusty winds inside Court Philippe Chatrier far better suited the Spaniard's style which has more safety built in, his heavily topspun shots clearing the net by some distance, and it resulted in his most one-sided Grand Slam triumph over Federer since beating him 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 here in 2008.

The men's semi-final clash between world number one Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem was called off for the day because of bad weather and will resume today.

Djokovic can rarely have been so delighted to see a match suspended as when the Forganisers called play off just before 6.30pm last night, even though the sun was shining.

When no further rain fell in the ensuing hour, tournament director Guy Forget and referee Remy Azemar were left looking ridiculous. Not only had they just cost the French Open a full refund of 15,000 tickets, but there were dark mutterings on TV commentary and social media about preferential treatment for Djokovic.


It will be interesting to find out what Thiem thinks, especially if Djokovic overturns his 6-2, 3-6, 3-1 deficit today.

Meanwhile, Ashleigh Barty has all the tools to become the first Australian woman in 46 years to win the French Open title when she faces fearless Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova today.

Barty rallied from a set down to overcome American teenager Amanda Anisimova 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-3 and become the first Australian woman to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since Samantha Stosur in 2010.

However, left-handed world number 38 Vondrousova has yet to drop a set after bulldozing her way through the draw, beating Briton Johanna Konta 7-5, 7-6 (7-2) to be on the cusp of becoming the first teenager to win the French Open women's title since Iva Majoli in 1997.

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