After a dramatic few days completing the French Open fourth round and quarter-finals we are now down to the men’s semi-final stage, which takes place today. The women’s final is tomorrow between top seed Halep, who swept aside third seed Muguruza 6-1 6-4 in impressive fashion yesterday, and tenth seed Sloane Stephens, who proved too good for compatriot Keys again, following her straight sets victory in the final of last year’s US Open. Halep leads the head-to-head against Stephens five-two, she’s won the last four in a row and won both their matches on clay in straights sets, including at the French Open back in 2014.
If Halep plays like she did against Muguruza I can’t see her losing this one and there could be some value in backing her to win in straight sets as she looks like a woman on a mission to redeem herself and finally win a well deserved first Grand Slam title.
Today’s men’s semi-finals are between defending champion and top seed Nadal and fifth seed Del Potro and seventh seed Thiem and the unseeded Cecchinato. Nadal and Del Potro are both playing back-to-back days after their delayed quarter-final matches were played over Wednesday and Thursday due to rain. Nadal leads the head-to-head 10-5, he won both their matches played on clay and three of their four matches played at Grand Slams, including the US Open semi-final last year in four sets.
On his best surface and in his back yard on Philippe Chatrier Court, it’s hard to oppose Nadal over the best of five sets but, with thunderstorms and rain forecast all day Sunday and Monday and muggy damp conditions, this could hand Del Potro an advantage as he has the raw power to hit through these conditions. With delays to the men’s final on Sunday possible, the winner will most likely to be the one who handles the potential delays the best. Nadal has the most experience accepting and adapting to these situations and he usually comes back a stronger player after a delay, like he proved against Schwartzman in the quarter finals, coming from behind to win in four sets.
The other semi-final is between seventh seed Thiem and the surprise package of this year’s event the unseeded Italian Cecchinato who is playing his first Grand Slam semi-final. Thiem will be playing his third straight French Open semi-final after beating an injured and fatigued second seed Sascha Zverev in the quarter-finals in straight sets 6-4 6-2 6-1. The head-to-head stands at one all; Cecchinato won their only meeting on clay in straight sets at a Challenger in Italy back in 2013 and Thiem won in three sets later that year on hard courts at a Challenger in Doha. Thiem is the hot favourite to beat Cecchinato and it’s hard to imagine that the ruthless Austrian will give up this great opportunity to reach a first Grand Slam final.