Sizing up the 2012 French Open Men’s Semi-Finals

roland garros logoAnd then there were four.

The 2012 Men’s French Open at Rolland Garros has featured  plenty of stunning upsets, dramatic comebacks, and players vomiting on the clay court (feeling better, Richard Gasquet?). But after two weeks of action, we can’t say that we’re surprised to see the Big 3 (plus David Ferrer) in the semis.

What we didn’t expect, though, were the struggles Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer had to deal with in the quarters to book their semis date.

Federer had to rally from two sets done to get past the pesky Juan Martin Del Potro while Novak had to save numerous match points in his own quarters match against crowd favorite and local hero Jo-Wilfrid Tsonga. Fortunately for both the number 2 and number 3 seeds, they found a way – however difficult it was – to get past their opponents, booking a rematch of last year’s dramatic test of wills that was won by Federer, ending Djoker’s perfect 41-0 start to the 2011 season.

A year later and the two rivals are meeting in the semis again. Just like last year, Djokovic has been listed as the favorite. This time, the Serb is getting 1/2 odds compared to Federer who has been listed as the 6/4 underdog. The two have played against each other 24 times with the Swiss holding a 13-11 advantage. Even more important, he’s also ahead 3-2 against Djokovic on clay, something that could be a huge factor in their semis encounter considering that they’re going to be playing on, well, clay.

On the other semis bracket are two countrymen in tournament favorite and the reigning “King of Clay” Rafael Nadal and number 6 seed David Ferrer.

For all the drama that we’re expecting from the Djokovic-Federer rematch, we don’t anticipate anything more than Nadal overpowering Ferrer to reach his sixth French Open finals in the last seven years. The two have met 20 times in the past with Nadal winning 16 of them and as far as their clay court records against each other are concerned, well, let’s just say that Ferrer should consider it an achievement actually winning once against Nadal in 13 tries.

No wonder the odds have Rafa as the overwhelming favorite at 1/12 odds with poor David Ferrer getting 8/1 odds.

So who’s advancing and who’s falling by the wayside?

We’d be fools not to pick Nadal to beat Ferrer so chalk a finals slot to the six-time French Open champion. The obvious conundrum is picking between Federer and Djokovic, something akin to splitting hairs. But we’re not scared to back away from a pick so after careful consideration, we’re staking our lot on Novak to avenge last year’s semis loss against Roger in five dramatic sets.

Nadal versus Djokovic in the Finals. We’ll be in front of the TV for that one.