We’re down to the last two standing in both competitions on what has been an absorbing and at times irresistible fortnight in Paris.
There was the small mater of the men’s semi-finals to attend to first however. Alas, neither contest proved up to the billing and hype their combatants previous performances demanded.
First it was Gulbis and Djokovic to do battle, and while the Latvian found his devastating game eventually, it was too little too late after Novak’s brilliant start.
The Serbian had all the answers to a nervous and ponderous start from Gulbis. As the temperature rose midway through both players wilted somewhat. Djokovic especially faded as his opponent suddenly found his range and delivered some of the points of the match.
A tight fourth set looked to be within reach of the 17thseed also but for a few points where Novak stepped up a gear and it was suddenly all over.
Of the two, Djokovic indulged in the racquet throwing whilst Ernests stayed admirably calm. Let’s hope the outspoken underachiever can push on from this semi-final showing.
The main event saw Murray and Nadal face off, if anything this was hyped even further but due to the top seed’s perfection, it was a total non-event.
I had tweeted that Murray must now know how Roger felt time and time again coming up second best to Rafa at Roland Garros. The Scot – who has played some truly title-winning stuff at times this tournament – was completely outplayed and had no answers for anything.
It was a demolition job and Novak will need a lot of luck to triumph Sunday.
Women’s Final preview
Simona Halep vs Maria Sharapova
A true clash of styles in store with this match-up and repeat of the Madrid final where Sharapova prevailed in three. It’s impossible to call this time however. Maria’s experience and sheer desire – demonstrated this fortnight frequently – will be tough to conquer.
On the other side of the net there is a consistent, UE-allergic starlet who has steamrolled the tour over the last twelve months. If Halep can stay unnerved and undaunted by the occasion – which she seems to have the mentality for, then she could do it.
But I for one reckon Maria will clinch it, I hope I’m wrong.
Verdict – Sharapova in three (again).
Men’s Final preview
Novak Djokovic vs Rafa Nadal
Djokovic hasn’t won a slam since last year’s Oz Open and against Nadal in this form I cannot see that changing. Rafa has been inconsistent to say the least this clay season, but has erased all of the doubt and lacklustre form once in Paris.
There is only one winner here.
Verdict – Nadal in three.