By Ros Satar, at Roland Garros
- Novak Djokovic  v Dominic Thiem  | Djokovic leads H2H 6-2 (3-2 on clay)
- Rafael Nadal  v Roger Federer  | Nadal leads H2H 23-15 (13-2 on clay)
PARIS, FRANCE – It is a full-on sprint to the end with all four semi-finals take place on a day where confidence in the weather is low
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Novak Djokovic  v Dominic Thiem  | Djokovic leads H2H 6-2 (3-2 on clay)
Arguably this was Novak Djokovic’s hardest match – certainly the first time he has had to stretch to seven games in a set, and yet still it was more than enough to contain Alexander Zverev who has yet to get past the quarter-final here.
For Zverev it was a case of too little too late in terms of finding his form, but for Djokovic, despite venting his frustration (at being up a set and a break up?) he has yet to be taken the distance and is winning in terms of shortest time on court – something that could well make a difference with this double-header of a day.
While it was touch and go whether Zverev would find the kind of form that has taken him to Masters 1000 and ATP Tour Finals victories over Djokovic, it was always going to be a different affair in best of five.
However, Dominic Thiem has got progressively better as his tournament has gone on. He might have taken a bit of a ramble in his first three matches but his last two have been clinical. Saving his court time means he is poised to bring his aggressive baseline game to bear on Djokovic. His version of the ingle-handed backhand is tenacious, and he can match that with solid groundstrokes to construct his points.
Of course, he is playing against one of the best returners in the sport, and Djokovic likes nothing more than to rally all day long, but he will be able to cut in and close out hs points just as ruthlessly as always.
Thiem will come away with a set, maybe even two, but ultimately, we are on course for the final everyone expects.
Prediction: Djokovic in four sets.
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Rafael Nadal  v Roger Federer  | Nadal leads H2H 23-15 (13-2 on clay)
For many people this may well be their de facto final, as we prepare for ‘Fedal’ Episode 39. Rafael Nadal has only lost twice to Roger Federer on the dirt (Hamburg, and Madrid) but when it comes to Roland Garros, it has been one-way traffic for the Spaniard.
The pair will be well rested (which we are sure will be welcome for two old souls) so body-wise they come into this semi-final at a real advantage compared to Djokovic and Thiem, but sometimes it is not good from a tennis point of view.
What Nadal can ill-afford to give Federer is a slow start. If Federer takes the first set over Nadal, he will definitely fancy his chances for delivering the upset of the tournament. However, if Federer relinquishes the first set, then it will most likely go downhill for him quite rapidly.
He cannot allow Nadal to control the rally from behind the baseline. He will find himself pinned to the back of the court and will be made to run until the Swiss cows come home. Federer has been playing a far more aggressive game this tournament and he will look to come in more, pulling Nadal off the back of the court and to open up the court to knife winners.
The big question will be stamina. Neither man has been really tested, both have dropped just one set, so it will really come down to who can outlast the other. And in the Court of the King of Clay, can there really be a different winner?
Prediction: Nadal in four sets
The men’s semi-finals will take place on Court Philippe Chatrier, starting at 12:50pm (11:50am BST).
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