French Open 2013: Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal cruise to semi-final showdown

 

Roland Garros

The collision of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic here in the semi-finals of the French Open has looked as inevitable as a rush-hour traffic jam on the Périphérique and the two juggernauts duly booked their showdown. Nadal, the seven-times champion of Roland Garros, and Djokovic, the world No 1, will meet on Friday for the right to face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or David Ferrer in Sunday's final.

There was an appropriate symmetry about the two favourites' quarter-final matches, which finished within five minutes of each other. Nadal was the first into the winners' enclosure, beating Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 after an hour and 56 minutes on Philippe Chatrier Court. Djokovic might have beaten Nadal by a short head if he had not failed to serve out for the match against Tommy Haas when he led 5-4 in the third set on Suzanne Lenglen Court, but the Serb broke back immediately and won 6-3, 7-6, 7-5 after two hours and 13 minutes.

Nadal, who dropped the first set in both his first two matches, has improved along with the quality of his opponents. Wawrinka, who has been one of the year's outstanding players, was on the back foot from the moment he was broken in the opening game. The Swiss, who has never reached a Grand Slam semi-final, briefly threatened when he retrieved an early break in the second set to level at 3-3, but Nadal won the next eight games in a row.

While Nadal has an extraordinary history at Roland Garros – the Spaniard has won 57 of his 58 matches here – Djokovic is building a hugely impressive record of consistency in Grand Slam tournaments. He is through to his 12th successive semi-final, a record bettered only by Roger Federer, whose run of 23 semi-finals in a row ended at Wimbledon three years ago.

Haas had beaten Djokovic in straight sets in their most recent meeting, but the 35-year-old German, who was attempting to become the oldest men's semi-finalist here for 45 years, rarely looked capable of upsetting the odds. His best chance came in the second set tie-break, but from 4-2 up he lost five of the next six points.

The overall head-to-head record between Nadal and Djokovic stands at 19-15 in favour of the Spaniard, but on clay the Serb has won just three times out of 15. Djokovic, nevertheless, won their most recent meeting, when he denied Nadal a ninth successive Monte Carlo title two months ago.

"I need to be at the top of my game throughout the whole match, because that's what it's going to take to win against him," Djokovic said as he looked ahead to the semi-final. "This is the biggest match-up of our Roland Garros 2013 campaign for both me and him. I guess it's the small details and a few points that can decide the winner. That's why I need to be very disciplined and focused in order to get emotionally, physically and mentally ready."

Nadal, who said that in beating Wawrinka he had played his best match of the tournament so far, was similarly cautious. "I know that I will be playing against the best player in the world," he said. "I'll just try to play my way, find my rhythm and play my best match. That's the only way to have a chance.'

Maria Sharapova's grip on her Roland Garros title appeared to be slipping when she lost the first set of her quarter-final to Jelena Jankovic without winning a game. However, the Russian recovered to win 0-6, 6-4, 6-3. "It was just a case of erasing that chapter and moving forward," Sharapova said when describing her nightmare 28-minute opening set.

The world No 2, who had not dropped a set in her previous four matches, will face Victoria Azarenka in today's semi-finals after the Belarusian beat Maria Kirilenko 7-6, 6-2. Serena Williams, the world No 1, meets Italy's Sara Errani, last year's surprise runner-up, in the other semi-final.

As Lead Partner of British Tennis, financial services company Aegon is helping to transform the sport, supporting the game at a grass-roots level through to world-class events. For more information please visit: www.aegontennis.co.uk

Murray fit for Queen's return

Andy Murray, who pulled out of the French Open because of a recurring back injury, is set to return to competition on grass at the Aegon Championships at Queen's Club next week.

The world No 2 said on Twitter that he would play at Queen's "barring no setbacks in the next couple of days". Murray has been practising this week at Wimbledon, steadily building up his training, and plans to start hitting at Queen's today.

Britain's Dan Evans, the world No 299, recorded one of the best wins of his career when he beat the American Ryan Harrison, ranked No 92, in the Aegon Trophy grass-court tournament in Nottingham.

Evans, who won a clay-court Futures tournament in Sweden last month, won 6-7, 6-0, 7-6. He now meets the Australian-born Brydan Klein, who recently changed his nationality and now competes as a Briton.

Paul Newman

Voices
Numbers of complaints about unwanted calls have trebled in just six months
voices
News
people
Arts & Entertainment
Picture of innocence: Ricky Gervais and Karl Pilkington in ‘Derek’
tvReview: The insights of Ricky Gervais's sweet and kind character call to mind Karl Pilkington's faux-naïf podcast observations
Life & Style
Looking familiar: The global biometrics industry is expected to grow to $20bn by 2020
tech
VIDEO
News
Higher expectations: European economies are growing but the recovery remains weak
newsThe eurozone crisis has tipped many into despair and extremism - this radically altered landscape calls for a new kind of politics, argues economist Philippe Legrain
Arts & Entertainment
Tangled up in blue: Singer-songwriter Judith Owen
musicAnd how husband Harry Shearer - of Spinal Tap and The Simpsons fame - helped her music flourish
Sport
Karim Benzema celebrates scoring the opening goal
sportReal Madrid 1 Bayern Munich 0: Germans will need their legendary self-belief to rescue Champions League tie in second leg
Arts & Entertainment
Paul Weller: 'I am a big supporter of independent record stores but the greedy touts making a fast buck off genuine fans is disgusting'
music
Arts & Entertainment
William Shakespeare's influence on English culture is still strongly felt today, from his plays on stage to words we use everyday
arts
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes has claimed supporters understand the need to look at
sportScot thanks club staff and fans, but gives no specific mention of players
News
Foster and Hedison have reportedly been dating since last summer
peopleOscar-winner said to be 'totally in love' with Alexandra Hedison
News
Strange 'quack' noises could be undersea chatter of Minke whales
science
News
weird news... and film it, obviously
Life & Style
Balancing act: City workers at the launch of Cityfathers
lifeThe organisation is the brainchild of Louisa Symington-Mills who set up Citymothers in 2012 - a group boasting more than 3,000 members
Arts & Entertainment
tv
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Migrants in Britain a decade on: The Poles who brought prosperity

Migrants in Britain a decade on

The Poles who brought prosperity
Philippe Legrain: 'The eurozone crisis has tipped many into disillusionment, despair and extremism - we need a European Spring'

Philippe Legrain: 'We need a European Spring'

The eurozone crisis has tipped many into disillusionment, despair and extremism - this radically altered landscape calls for a new kind of politics, argues the economist
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A moment of glory on the Western Front for the soldiers of the Raj

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A moment of glory on the Western Front for the soldiers of the Raj
Judith Owen reveals how husband Harry Shearer - star of This Is Spinal Tap and The Simpsons - helped her music flourish

Judith Owen: 'How my husband helped my music flourish'

Her mother's suicide and father's cancer also informed the singer-songwriter's new album, says Pierre Perrone
The online lifeline: How a housing association's remarkable educational initiative gave hope to tenant battling long-term illness and depression

Online lifeline: Housing association's educational initiative

South Yorkshire Housing Association's free training courses gave hope to tenant battling long-term illness and depression
Face-recognition software: Is this the end of anonymity for all of us?

Face-recognition software: The end of anonymity?

The software is already used for military surveillance, by police to identify suspects - and on Facebook
Train Kick Selfie Guy is set to scoop up to $250,000 thanks to his viral video - so how can you cash in on your candid moments?

Viral videos: Cashing in on candid moments

Train Kick Selfie Guy Jared Frank could receive anything between $30,000 to $250,000 for his misfortune - and that's just his cut of advertising revenue from being viewed on YouTube
The world's fastest elevators - 20 metres per second - are coming soon to China

World's fastest elevators coming soon to China

Whatever next? Simon Usborne finds out from Britain's highest authority on the subject
Cityfathers tackles long-hours culture that causes men to miss out on seeing their children

Cityfathers tackles long-hours culture

The organisation is the brainchild of Louisa Symington-Mills, a chief operating officer who set up Citymothers in 2012 - a group that now boasts more than 3,000 members
Ian Herbert: Manchester United broken so badly they need a big personality to carry out overhaul

United broken so badly they need a big personality to carry out overhaul

The size of the rebuild needed at Old Trafford is a task way beyond Ryan Giggs, says Ian Herbert
Mark Schwarzer: Chelsea keeper aims to seize unlikely final chance

Mark Schwarzer: Chelsea keeper aims to seize unlikely final chance

The 41-year-old calmed his nerves to perform a classic 'Superman act' when he replaced Petr Cech in Madrid. One clean sheet later, he is now determined to become a club hero
Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home

It's not always fun in the sun: Moving abroad does not guarantee happiness

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home
Migrants in Britain a decade on: They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire

Migrants in Britain a decade on

They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire
Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?