It was a sad couple of days for the one-hander’s. They were a combined 0-4 in the quarterfinals against their two handed backhand opponents. On clay where the ball bounces very high, combined with the warming weather was a brutal combination. Wednesday featured two matches that went just about as everybody thought they would.
Before I get into the matches, can we please talk about the continued terrible scheduling at Roland Garros? For two days in a row, both Mens quarterfinal matches have been played at the exact same time. It’s actually a shame that the French Open is so concerned about making a little extra money. They do the same thing with the Women, putting both matches on at the same time. They have two stadium courts, Phillip Chatrier and Suzanne Lenglen. Chatrier is actually the center court, but by putting matches on Lenglen they can make fans pay for tickets to either court. It really hampers with the coverage of the tournament, with ESPN2 or Tennis Channel having to switch back and forth between matches. No other major does this.
Onto the matches. After Stan Wawrinka’s epic five set battle with Richard Gasquet, he had little hope against Rafa Nadal. He came into the match with an 0-10 record against Rafa, and its all in the matchup. Stan has one of the best one-handers on tour, but Nadal makes it look pedestrian. The extreme western forehand that Nadal uses means that the lefty spin he generates will get up to the shoulder of Stan’s one hander, which is one of the toughest shots in tennis. Nadal’s career record against one handed backhands is outstanding simply due to the matchup. Stan fought pretty hard with a thigh injury, even though the outcome was never in doubt. Nadal is starting to play a lot better, hitting the ball with confidence. He took out Stan 6-2 6-3 6-1. His match took nearly as long as Djokovic’s did, even though he played way fewer games. That was because of the obscene amount of time between points Rafa was taking. At an ATP event he would have been given numerous point and game penalties, because he was going over 25 seconds nearly every point.
The other quarterfinal match between Novak Djokovic and Tommy Haas was more competitive, but ended in the same result. Djokovic beat Haas 6-3 7-6(5) 7-5 in just over 2 hours. Unlike Wawrinka, Haas hung with his opponent, with many of the points going over 10 shots. Haas had beaten Djokovic in Miami earlier this year, so Novak knew he had to bring his game. He looked focused, and he was serving really well for him. His timing was great like always, and he played unbelievable up at net, which was a little surprising.
This sets the match everybody(except me) has been waiting for. Nadal and Djokovic have played so many times over the last few years. Nadal’s spin does nothing to Novak’s special two-handed backhand. He takes the ball early on that side and goes right at Nadal’s forehand until he gets the chance to use his signature down the line backhand. The match is predictable, we all know the patterns these two get into in their matches. All we can hope for is that both players play their best. Here are some highlights from the last time these two have played on clay:
And here is a pretty good breakdown of the matchup: