Wednesday, June 4, 2008

RG Day 10 - Rafa, Djoko Set to Battle For No. 2 Spot

I don't know what tennis fans are more anxious to see, a Rafa-Djokovic semifinal or a Rafa-Fed final?!?! I do know however, that it's way too hard to predict who will make it through to the final from that bottom half of the draw - Rafa or Djokovic?!?!

The two players will be fighting for more than just a spot in the final. Rafa will be fighting to keep his status as number 2 in the world, as well as trying to reach a fourth consecutive French Open final, while Djokovic will be looking to reach a third straight Grand Slam final (lost at the 2007 US Open to Federer, won the 2008 Australian Open) as well as replacing Rafa as number 2 in the rankings. A lot is at stake which will surely make this match one of the most talked about showdowns of the season :)

The Rafa-Djoko History So Far

Rafa and Djokovic have met on 10 previous occasions dating back to the 2006 French Open where Djokovic retired against eventual champion Rafa.

Rafa leads their head-to-head record, 7-3 with the most recent win coming in the Hamburg semifinals, an epic match that saw both players display some sublime tennis in front of an awe-struck tennis audience worldwide.

The two players have alternated victories in their past 5 meetings however, Djokovic has never managed to beat Rafa on clay.

How They Made it to the Semis

Rafa is coming into this match without dropping a single set so far. If his early performances in the first two rounds at the Open this year were not as solid as expected due to annoying rain delays and some mental and physical fatigue, his quarterfinal against Nicolas Almagro was a hell of a statement. I mean 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 against a claycourt specialist with an insane serve... come on!!! Djokovic must be a little bit scared. Rafa earlier ousted four lefties in a row, Fernando Verdasco (22nd seed), Jarkko Nieminen (26th seed), Nicolas Devilder and Thomaz Bellucci.

Djokovic had a tricky first round against Denis Gremelmayr which he struggled through in four sets, but then went on to post a comfortable second round win over Miguel Angel Lopez Jaen (don't ask me why all these names) followed by a slightly tougher win over Wayne Odesnik.

Djokovic was really tested in the fourth round against home favorite Paul-Henri Mathieu, but the Serb was too strong for Mathieu as he managed to come through in straight sets 4, 3 and 4.

If the fourth round was tough for Djoko, the quarterfinal was brutal. Djokovic faced his old friend and tournament surprise, Ernests Gulbis, who ousted Blake, Lapentti and Llodra en route to the quarters. Despite being far from his best, and facing some real good tennis from the Latvian, Djokovic managed to win in 3 tough sets, 7-5, 7-6, 7-5.

You never know who is better off with their quarterfinal result, Rafa or Djokovic. One can argue that Rafa came through easily and won't have to deal with recovering from fatigue before the semis while others could say that since he wasn't really tested like Djokovic was, he won't be ready for the world number 3 on Thursday. Well we'll just have to wait and see!! It's gonna be a good one anyways:)

Check out the All-Serbian Women's Semifinal

Ivanovic and Jankovic came through in style, both posting 6-3, 6-2 wins over their respective opponents. The Serbian beauties, who will faceoff in the semis, have met 6 times before with world number 2, Ivanovic, having the upper hand in 5 of them, most recently in Indian Wells last April.

Am sensing an Ivanovic-Safina final, but that's just me :)

Day 11 matches to Look Out For

Roger Federer [1] vs. Fernando Gonzalez [24]
Gael Monfils vs. David Ferrer [5]
Dinara Safina [13] - Elena Dementieva [7]

Finally, I must say: Happy 22nd Birthday Rafa :)


rasberry said...

I predict that Rafa will win with 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(5). I also hope that Safina will take the french open title because she does earn it. I hope that Rafael will take the french title again. I will definitely tape this match. Oh! I can hardly wait 'til Friday to watch the Rafa and Djokovic match. May the best player win.

Reem said...

Yeah i can't wait either... I hope Rafa wins but not before Djoko gives him a run for his money.....