Federer in semifinals
There will be absolutely nothing low-key—or, it seems safe to say, easy—about what comes next for the 16-time Grand Slam champion: a showdown against Novak Djokovic, who is 41-0 this year and unbeaten in his last 43 matches overall.
With attention focused elsewhere, perhaps in part because some assume his best days are behind him, the no-fuss, no-muss Federer simply has won all 15 sets he’s played so far, capped Tuesday by a 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (3) quarterfinal victory over No. 9-seeded Gael Monfils of France.
“For me, the plan is trying to get a step further and into the finals of the French Open,” said Federer, who won the 2009 title at Roland Garros to complete a career Grand Slam but lost in the quarterfinals a year ago. “At the end of the day, that’s, for me, the big picture, and that’s why I entered the French Open. It wasn’t to stop Novak.”
Nevertheless, their semifinal is sure to be the talk of the tennis world until it’s played Friday.
For Djokovic—who didn’t need to exert himself Tuesday, because his quarterfinal opponent, Fabio Fognini, withdrew Monday with an injured left leg—a victory over Federer would guarantee a rise to No. 1 in the rankings for the first time. It also would make the second-seeded Serb 42-0 in 2011, tying John McEnroe in 1984 for the best start to a season in the Open era, which began in 1968. And it would put Djokovic one win from his first French Open title.
For Federer, a victory would put him into his first Grand Slam final in more than 16 months, his longest drought since he won his first major title at Wimbledon in 2003.
Djokovic beat Federer in the semifinals at the U.S. Open in September and Australian Open in January.
“There’s less at stake for me than for him,” said Federer, who is 13-9 against Djokovic over their careers but 0-3 this year. “He’s got a lot of things going on.”
The last player to defeat Djokovic anywhere was Federer, a 6-4, 6-1 winner in the ATP Finals at London, way back on Nov. 27.
Federer is seeded No. 3 in Paris, the first time he hasn’t been No. 1 or 2 at a Grand Slam tournament since 2004. Instead, five-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal, who faces two-time runner-up and fifth-seeded Robin Soderling in the quarterfinals today, is seeded No. 1, and Djokovic is No. 2.
Today’s other men’s quarterfinal has No. 4 Andy Murray against unseeded Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina. Murray won the last five games to finish off a 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 comeback victory over No. 15 Viktor Troicki of Serbia in a fourth-round match suspended Monday night because of darkness.
In the women’s draw, No. 5 Francesca Schiavone of Italy, the defending champion, came back after losing 10 of the first 12 games and beat No. 14 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, 1-6, 7-5, 7-5, in a quarterfinal. On Thursday, Schiavone will meet No. 11 Marion Bartoli of France, who defeated No. 13 Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, 7-6 (4), 6-4.