A scheduler’s nightmare, and a tennis fan’s delight – welcome to semi-final Friday at Roland Garros.

Four matches across three courts, all promising high-quality, high-stakes tennis, and more intrigue than you can poke a stick at. On the women’s side, four fresh faces vie for their unlikely runs to continue, while on the men’s, the tour’s four best clay-courters come together in a clash of the titans. Really, you couldn’t ask for more from a single day of action.

So wherever you are, get comfortable, get some snacks, and get hyped. And read on for a look at all four semis on day 13 in Paris.

Starts at 11:00am local.

Amanda Anisimova (USA) v Ashleigh Barty (AUS) [8] – First on Suzanne Lenglen

A half that featured six grand slam champions, including the GOAT and the last two world number ones, and somehow the final two players left standing are a 17-year-old and a former cricket player. In all seriousness, Amanda Anisimova and Ash Barty might not be the names we were expecting, but that won’t make this anything less of an exciting contest. A first career meeting here in Paris, it will be fascinating to see how their contrasting styles match up, with Anisimova’s superb use of driven, deep hitting up against Barty’s more nuanced, multi-directional play. Certainly both women will like their chances, although while I’m expecting Barty to keep things close with her serve and general awkwardness, I still think Anisimova will eke it out – age be damned, she’s just seeing the ball too well right now.

Johanna Konta (GBR) [26] v Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) – First on Simonne Mathieu

One’s a fast-rising youngster, the other is a rejuvenated… uh … oldster… and having enjoyed similarly strong runs through the tournament, it’s only fitting they square off for a spot in the finals. Standing 1 win apiece in the head-to-head – with Konta’s win coming courtesy of a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 affair a few weeks ago in Rome – we know that each woman is capable of beating the other, and here again it’s unlikely either has it all their own way. Who wins here comes down to whether Vondrousova’s serve and depth-of-shot holds up under the relentless attacking of Konta – if she does, the Czech should be able to find enough angles and drop shots to make the difference, if she doesn’t the Brit will hit her off the court. If I had to pick a winner, I would go with Konta just for sheer offensive firepower, but don’t be surprised if the Czech is the one to finally cool-off her red-hot run.

Starts at 12:50pm local.

Roger Federer (SUI) [3] v Rafael Nadal (ESP) [2] – First on Philippe Chatrier

It’s the match everyone hoped for and no one expected: Fedal XXXIX has arrived here at Roland Garros. Undoubtedly the most high-profile rivalry in tennis history, when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal meet it’s always a big deal, however if you’re expecting a repeat of the last time they met at a major (’17 AO final), you might be disappointed. Realistically, Nadal’s advantages on clay are as intact as they’ve ever been, and while Federer will look to hit his backhand on the rise to nullify Nadal’s topspin, the opportunities to actually do so are probably going to be limited. That said, don’t count out Federer completely, it’s just he’ll struggle to maintain the level of redline tennis needed over five sets, and yet even in a straightforward Nadal victory, you’re still getting the sort of punishing rallies and ridiculous winners that make this rivalry so special.

Dominic Thiem (AUT) [4] v Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] – Second on Philippe Chatrier

Yet to drop a set this year at Roland Garros, the Novak Djokovic of 2019 is certainly not the same one we saw the past two years in Paris, and here he gets a chance to drive-home that notion with a chance for revenge against Dominic Thiem. Serving the Serb a freshly-toasted bagel in their 2017 quarterfinal, Thiem handed Djokovic one of the more ignominious defeats in his storied career, and indeed, has continued to provide stiff opposition since, splitting a pair of hard-fought Masters 1000 meetings in Rome ’18 and Madrid ’19. Again it should be no different, the deciding factors being how well Djokovic returns the Thiem serve, and whether Thiem can play close enough to the lines to nullify the Serb’s merciless crosscourt hitting. In the end, the reasonable expectation is that Djokovic emerges triumphant, but count out Thiem at your own peril – if there’s anyone on this surface who can beat the world no. 1 with pure ball striking, it’s probably him.


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