After the fall of top three women’s seed early in the tournament, there was almost a smooth progression of events in later stages. It was even more predictable in the men’s category, except Roger Federer’s relatively early exit. With just two days remaining for the conclusion of year’s second Grand Slam, you can either have a Russian or a Romanian winning the women’s trophy on Saturday. On the men’s side, it will either be a Serbian or a Spaniard. On Thursday, Maria Sharapova played another tough match against the feisty Canadian Eugenie Bouchard to enter her third consecutive final at the French open. Sharapova’s opponent Simona Halep had a rather easy passage at different stages of the tournament and her victory over German Andrea Petkovic, in the semifinal, was no different. The men’s final line-up did not hold any surprises since it was one of the most accurately predictable events in a tennis major. Bidding for his ninth French Open crown, Rafael Nadal had a thumping victory in the semifinal against Andy Murray while Novak Djokovic had to break a bit of sweat in beating his Latvian counterpart Ernests Gulbis. In retrospect, there was something interesting about men’s and women’s single semifinal line up at this year’s French Open. All eight entrants in men’s and women’s singles semifinals bore a distinct national color. Beginning in alphabetical order from Andy Murray, You had a British, a Canadian, a German, a Latvian, a Romanian, a Russian, a Serbian and a Spaniard.
On Thursday, Maria Sharapova began her semifinal match against Eugenie Bouchard with a now familiar first-set loss. In a match lasting for 2½ hours, both players committed a combined number of 83 unforced errors and much like her previous two matches, Sharapova needed to work hard to earn every point. Bouchard looked in command after she took the first set 6-4. In the second set, Sharapova looked like having an easy time as she led 5-3 but the Canadian broke her to bring parity at 5-5. Sharapova, however, held her nerves and broke Bouchard in the twelth game to take the second set 7-5. Bouchard became a bit error-prone as the third set progressed and Sharapova derived full advantage ending the match 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 to enter the final.
The second semifinal was completely dominated by Simona Halep, who shrugged off the challenge from Andrea Petkovic. The German was no match to the experienced Romanian, who wrapped the first set in under 30 minutes and though the second set went to the tie-break, Halep didn’t have much problem as she finished the match 6-2, 7-6. Halep has had the smoothest passage in the final this year and Sharapova will have to bring out her best to counter the 4th seeded Romanian.
In men’s first semifinal on Friday, Novak Djokovic went about quietly and took the first two sets 6-3, 6-3 against the talented Ernests Gulbis. But Gulbis denied a straight sets victory to Djokovic by forcing a more powerful game in the next set. For someone who had beaten Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych in successive matches, it was an apt recovery in the third set for Gulbis. Using his backhand to perfection and hitting forehand winners at will, the Latvian pushed Djokovic hard before wrapping up the set 6-3. Gulbis had a problem with his lower left back and dropped his service early to trail 0-2 in the fourth set. From this point onward, Djokovic began playing steadily with a quiet dominance. It wasn’t long before he took the set and cruised into the final with a 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory.
In the second semifinal, Rafael Nadal crushed Andy Murray 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 with his best display in 10 days. The score-line tells the master class with which the 8-time champion dealt with Murray. Murray could never come close to forcing a break in the match, lasting an hour and 40 minutes. With the champion’s winning streak reaching 34 matches, it was a clear message to Novak Djokovic about the shape of things coming up on Sunday. It is Nadal’s 20th Grand Slam final of his illustrious career spanning close to 11 years. Both Nadal and Djokovic are already legends in the history of modern tennis. While Nadal would like to make it for the 9th time, Djokovic too is focused to win the only Grand slam that has eluded him.
One final was decided on Thursday, when the German and Dutch pair of Ana-Lena Groenefeld and Jean-Julien Rojer won their first mixed doubles against eighth seeded Julia Goerges of Germany and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia 4-6, 6-2, 10-7. It was the first Grand Slam title for Rojer and second for Groenefeld. For the unseeded Groenefeld/Rojer, it was a remarkable run in the tournament.