May 1, 2016

Robredo Snaps Fognini’s Win Streak to Claim Umag Title


(July 28, 2013) Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo snapped Italian Fabio Fognini’s winning streak at 13, when the Spaniard won the Umag title 6-0, 6-3. It’s his second title of the year.

Robredo began 2013 at No. 114 in the world due to injury. The 31-year-old Spaniard, a former member of the top ten is now back in the top 30.

Thirteen ATP World Tour titles this season have now been won by players aged 30 and over, already matching last year’s total.

“I’m more than happy,” Robredo said. “I’ve been a professional for nearly 15 years and this is my 12th title, so there have not been many times with trophies. I love the emotion.

“Before the match, I was talking to my coach and I was saying, ‘It’s lovely to be waiting to play a final and you are nervous.’ Money can’t buy this feeling and I’m lucky to be part of this sport and lucky to have the chance to feel these feelings. I enjoy it and I know how to handle it.

“I played lovely. I played great. It was a perfect match. It’s not easy to play a final and I played very good. I served okay, I returned okay. To win today, I think I did a great job.”

“It was an incredible week,” said the losing finalist Fognini. “I go home with a lot of happiness. I’m a little bit disappointed, but even if you’re Roger or Rafa, you’re going to lose some time. I’ve played three incredible weeks and they’re going to stay in my head for the rest of my life.”


Youzhny Wins Gstaad, Murray/Peers Take Doubles Crown


(July 28, 2013) World No. 33 Mikhail Youzhny became the first Russian champion in 18 years at the Crédit Agricole Suisse Open Gstaad when he beat the Netherlands’ Robin Haase 6-3, 6-4 for the title. The Russian who is 31, joins a group of 30-plus players to win titles on the ATP tour. It’s the 12th time this year that an over 30 player has captured a title.

“I’m very happy, “ said the Russian. “When you win a tournament, it doesn’t matter how you’ve played or who you beat. My last title was at the start of last year in Zagreb, so it’s been quite long. I’m trying everything to try and play more consistently at a high level.

“When you see the score, it looks easy, but it wasn’t. It was only one break in each set and I didn’t have many chances to break him again. The last game on my serve was also very close.”

“I didn’t feel well last weekend and had some problems with my knee which was pretty swollen,: said the 57th ranked Haase. “And now I’m here as the runner-up and that’s great. I think that the altitude fits my game and that I can handle it well. It’s tough to play against Mikhail. He’s a great player and I never beat him.”

In the doubles, third seeds Jamie Murray and John Peers won their second ATP World Tour team title with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Pablo Andujar and Guillermo Garcia Lopez.

“It’s been good,” Murray said of their pairing. “We’ve been playing a few months now, working hard together to try and get the team as good as we can. We’ve had some good results and we’ll keep trying to go for the future.”

Murray and Peers first teamed up for a title back in February when they won Montpellier.


Dolgopolov Falls In Umag



Vegeta Croatia Open Umag

ATP World Tour 250
Umag, Croatia  (+2 hours GMT)
22-28 July, 2013     Surface: Clay


Singles – Second Round
[2] A Seppi (ITA) d A Haider-Maurer (AUT) 61 40 ret. (lower back strain)
A Bedene (SLO) d [4] A Dolgopolov (UKR) 63 61
[5] T Robredo (ESP) d V Troicki (SRB) 60 64
H Zeballos (ARG) d [8] C Berlocq (ARG) 36 63 62

Doubles – Quarter-finals
C Berlocq (ARG) / H Zeballos (ARG) d [1] F Cermak (CZE) / L Dlouhy (CZE) 64 67(4) 10-6
[2] A Begemann (GER) / M Emmrich (GER) d A Seppi (ITA) / V Troicki (SRB) w/o
[3] N Monroe (USA) / S Stadler (GER) d T de Bakker (NED) / R Junaid (AUS) 75 76(1)
M Klizan (SVK) / D Marrero (ESP) d [WC] F Skugor (CRO) / A Veic (CRO) 64 46 10-8

CENTRE COURT start 5:30 pm
[3] F Fognini (ITA) vs [6] M Klizan (SVK)
Not Before 8:00 PM
A Montanes (ESP) vs G Monfils (FRA)
[5] T Robredo (ESP) vs A Bedene (SLO)

GRANDSTAND start 6:00 pm
H Zeballos (ARG) vs [2] A Seppi (ITA)
M Klizan (SVK) / D Marrero (ESP) vs [2] A Begemann (GER) / M Emmrich (GER)
C Berlocq (ARG) / H Zeballos (ARG) vs [3] N Monroe (USA) / S Stadler (GER)



Main Draw Matches Underway at the BB&T Atlanta Open


By Tina Taylor-Brown

(July 23, 2013) ATLANTA, GA – Matches in the main draw of the BB&T started Monday night. American Ryan Harrison was able to advance regardless of losing his cool and dropping the second set. He finished with a win over Australia’s Marinko Matosevic. Rhyne Williams took out fellow American Denis Kudla. Both received a WC into the main draw.


Tuesday afternoon kicked off with qualifier Kevin King, former Tech player, against rank 69 Yen-Hsun Lu from Taipei. After dropping the first set 6-3, King played tougher in the second set and although getting broken after several deuces, he stayed mentally tough and broke right back for 3 all. He struggled to hold for 4-3. Then each player held with easy love games to reach 5-5. Lu earned another break and served for the match. When asked what were the keys to winning the match Lu replied, “I just tried to stay focused and not over play… he is a dangerous guy and I had to read his serve and get used to his lefty slice.”


Veteran Lleyton Hewitt defeated France’s Edouard Roger-Vasselin in straight sets. At the press conference, Hewitt spoke about making the transition to the hard courts from grass and despite a low serving percentage, serving well on the big points to capture the win.


Jack Sock fell to Columbia’s Santiago Giraldo in a well fought match 7-5, 6-4.  Number 1 doubles seeds and 2013 Wimbledon doubles finalist Dodig and Melo dismissed the American brother pair Ryan and Christian Harrison 6-3, 6-1.


The rain staved off the completion of the Mardy Fish and Michael Russell match twice with Fish up a set and down a break 2-4 in the second, and the other all American double header between James Blake and Tim Smyczek who sat down Donald Young in the 3rd round of the qualies.


Fognini Saves Three Match Points to Win Hamburg Title

F Fognini

(July 21, 2013) Italy’s Fabio Fognini saved three match points before coming back to beat Argentine qualifier No. 114 Federico Delbonis 4-6, 7-6 (8), 6-2 to win the German Tennis Championships on Sunday in Hamburg. For the Italian it’s for his second title in two weeks with both titles coming in Germany on a clay court. Last week he won the title in Stuttgart. He now has a 10 match winning streak.

Fognini came back from 1-4 down in the second to reach the tiebreaker. The Argentine failed to take advantage of three match points.

Delbonis, who upset Roger Federer in the semifinals, was trying to become the seventh first-time winner on the ATP World Tour in 2013.

“It’s an amazing week. I can’t believe it right now,” Fognini said. “I just feel incredible, a real good sensation. I’m very happy. I was, I think, a little bit lucky. I was nervous. Today, I didn’t play really good, but I fought hard. I think that was the key. Another trophy, that’s the important thing. I want to enjoy [this] as soon as possible and fly to Umag tomorrow, [where I] have another chance to play.”

“I tried to do my best on the match points,” Delbonis said. “I don’t know if I played bad. I tried to do my best on the three points. But Fabio also played well on these points. To lose the final with match points is disappointing. But at the end of the week, the result of all the week is positive or me. It’s my first final. I beat Roger [Federer] yesterday [in the semi-finals].”

Fognini is projected to move into the top 20 of the ATP World Tour rankings next week.



Protestors Fail to Halt Nadal’s Sprint to History

Rafael Nadal 2

By Ros Satar

(June 9, 2013) PARIS – A dramatic double interruption from protestors left an edgy air on an overcast Paris day, but it did not prevent Rafael Nadal from carving a place in history as the first man to win eight titles at the same Grand Slam event.


Nadal beat compatriot David Ferrer in straight sets 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 and now is the leading performer in Roland Garros history, with a 59-1 win-loss record.


The weather had turned cloudy and there were doubts that the match would get by without significant disruptions – for weather.


It was important for Ferrer to get a good start but it was the defending champion who made the first break early.


Ferrer all but gifted Nadal the first set when he was broken again, despite having got himself back on even terms, thanks to sloppy errors and a double fault.


Nadal started the second set with real intent, drawing gasps at times as the intensity of his clubbed forehands and backhands racked up.


Play was initially disrupted in the middle of Ferrer’s service game (at 4-1) by a couple of protestors holding a sign up in the Chatrier against the recently passed same-sex marriage bill, which also legalizes same-sex adoption.


The players waited as the chanters were escorted out of the stadium, but more drama was to unfold Nadal was coming out to serve at 5-1 for the second set.


A bare-chested protestor leapt from the front row with a lit red flare, as security guards moved quickly to restrain him, also ushering Nadal safely out of the way, and to extinguish the flare.


A similar styled protest took place at the same time at the top of Suzanne Lenglen Court.


This latest disruption unsettled the public and players alike, as both were unable to hold on to their serves, but it provided Nadal with a decisive break once nerves had stopped jangling to take the second set.


As if that was not enough, there was a brief suspension for rain in the third set, with the players held on court.


Ferrer was whistled at his reluctance to re-start and thankfully for the end was relatively fast for him as Nadal was not hanging about, on his way to history.


Six-time Olympic Gold medal winner, Usain Bolt, presented the Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy to Nadal.


When it came to the punch, Ferrer just came up short on the aggressive needed, as he explained in his post-match news conference.


“To beat Rafael in clay court, I need to play more aggressive.

“When the court is slower, it’s very difficult.

“He has more power than me with his shots, and it’s very difficult for to beat him.”


Despite losing the final today, Ferrer moves to fourth in the ATP World Tour Rankings, and at least could joke about that after the match.


“I lost the final against Rafael, but tomorrow I am going to be No.4 and him No. 5.

“But anyway, I change.  I prefer to win here and to stay No. 5.  (Laughter.)”


When asked about the disturbances due to the protestors, Ferrer rushed it off, although he did joke: “Rafael, he was scared a little bit, (Laughter), but nothing happened, so it’s okay.”


Nadal later agreed but was quick to praise the efforts of the security guards who quickly bundled the protestor from the courts.


Nadal called this an emotional win and described how just a few months ago, this position was the last thing on his team’s minds.


“Five months ago nobody of my team dreamed about one comeback like this because we thought that going to be impossible.

“But here we are today, and that’s really fantastic and incredible.

“I am enjoying a lot all these emotions since I came back.”


But serious questions must be asked in light of the second incident since 2009, in a men’s final at Roland Garros.


In 2009, Spanish “streaker” Jimmy Jump tried to approach Roger Federer to place a barretina cap on his head, before being tackled and removed by security guards.


Security measures are tighter at both Wimbledon and the US Open, especially in light of recent high profile terrorist activities in London and New York.


Security measures are less tight here – as someone pointed out it is nigh on impossible to smuggle a cup of coffee onto the chilly press benches, but people with flares can manage to get in, and moreover get onto the court.


In an interview after the final, tournament director Gilbert Ysern felt that the situation had been controlled and that there would be no need to review security.


But the moment belongs to the man from Mallorca.

“This one is very special one.

“When you have period of time like I had, you realize that you don’t know if you will have the chance to be back here with this trophy another time.”


Serena Williams Makes It Sweet 16

Serena Williams Day 2 Press Conference

By Ros Satar


(June 8, 2013) PARIS – How does Maria Sharapova solve a problem like Serena?


The answer is she doesn’t, at least not today as the head-to-head between them grew to 14-2, when Serena Williams regained the title she won back in 2002 6-4, 6-4.


It perhaps feels uncharitable to say that there was an air of inevitability around this final.


After all, the numbers do not lie and at best people wanted the match to be competitive at least, especially those who remember the London 2012 Olympic Final.


It is always a challenge to defend a title and Maria Sharapova certainly made her intentions clear at the start of the match, gritting her way to defending four breakpoints, before breaking Williams in the next game.


But of course, the world No. 1 was not standing for that – with the first set a bizarre see-saw of breaks and clutch points and “come-on’s” from them both.


If Sharapova was going to make her claim to defend her crown, it really had to be here to put Williams under pressure from the start.


You just had the feeling, though, that it was taking every ounce of effort from Sharapova to stay in contention, so it was no surprise when Williams served out for the first set, having nudged ahead again.


The second set started in much the same way, with a long protracted hold and the saving of many break points (again) from Sharapova.


Even though it came down to a single break at the start of the second set, Sharapova never stopped fighting, but Williams stepped up a gear, firing down three aces to start and finish the last game, and with it gaining her second Roland-Garros title, and her 16th Grand Slam title.


She now holds the most slam titles of any active player, and the sixth of all time, as well as becoming the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam in the Open Era – it may be impolite to refer to a lady’s age but just for the record, it’s 31 years, 256 days by the tournament end date.


Having nothing to defend here after her first round loss was a key for Williams today.


“I played so well leading up to the French Open last year ‑ and same thing happened again this year ‑ but I didn’t put any pressure on myself,” Wiliams said.


Sharapova had pointed out that Williams was serving harder that tomorrow’s finalist David Ferrer.


“I think growing up with Venus, you know, she’s serving so big, I was like, I want to serve big, too,” she said.


“So I think this definitely really helped me a lot.  Again, I am not the tallest girl on tour, but I definitely think I use my height in a very effective way, and I use it to the fullest of my ability.”


Seated alongside the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen, Williams admitted her had been very nervous in serving for the match.


“I thought, I’m not going to be able to hit groundstrokes.  (Laughter.)

“No joke.  As you see the one groundstroke I did hit went like 100 feet out.


“I thought to myself, Look, Serena, you’ve just got to hit aces.  That’s your only choice.”


Of course having been on the receiving end of those, it was an obviously reflective Sharapova who faced the press later.


“I think getting to the Roland-Garros final is not too shabby, so I’d say that’s a positive.  Coming back as a defending champion, I know it’s never easy to come back with that title, so I’m happy that I was able to produce good tennis within these last two weeks and come to that stage.”


To reverse a trend of losses against Williams dating back to 2004 is obviously a work in progress (to put it mildly), but today showed that Sharapova could go toe-to-toe with her.


“Some of the results against her last year were not so good.  But the match in Miami and the match here, I think I’m doing a few more right things than maybe I have done in the past, yet obviously not consistent enough.”


We are only half way through the season, with Wimbledon coming up, so Sharapova could at least look ahead.


“It’s always the one that I always want to perform well at and the one that I always look forward to.


“It’s not like I really need someone to give me motivation towards that.”


If age is just a number now to Serena, and a new number was reached today (16 Grand Slam titles), then does she have her eye on the next prize?


“If it means I stop at 16 or if it means I have more, I definitely want to continue my journey to get a few more.”


Roll on Wimbledon and the US Open.



Spectacular and Streaky – A Tale of Two Semifinals

Rafael Nadal


By Ros Satar


(June 7, 2013) PARIS – On perhaps the hottest day of the French Open tournament this year, the scene was set for two potentially explosive semifinals. There would be an air of expectation for both semifinals, but only one would deliver.


Rafael Nadal def. Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7(3), 9-7

After an emotional week for Novak Djokovic, here was a chance to get the one slam that had so far eluded him.


All that stood between him was his conqueror last year, and defending champion – Rafael Nadal.


The sheer ferocity of hitting from the start was like a game of cat and mouse, but with sledgehammers for paws.


The first set was a tight affair, with Nadal capitalizing on his first break point opportunities to nudge ahead, and take the first set.


It would always be key to any success Djokovic might enjoy to start fast, or now at least stay in contention.


The Serb was starting to show his frustration as errors crept in under the pressure of Nadal’s intensity.


A couple of traded breaks, but at least Djokovic had seen that Nadal was breakable.


A moment taken to adjust the wooden crucifix around his neck, and perhaps to ask for some assistance or divine intervention finally delivered with another break for Djokovic to edge ahead at 5-3, serving out the set.


Suddenly we had a fight on our hands, but it was almost as if a wave of weariness hit Djokovic, who was now slipping and sliding on the newly swept, very dusty court.


It looked like he might have tweaked something, and either way, Nadal was not taking any prisoners, quickly romping to a 5-0 lead as Djokovic slumped about the place lethargically.


Having already received a time violation warning, Nadal received a point penalty in the last game, not that it made any difference to Djokovic, who by now had at least escaped a “bagel”.


A new lease on life came back to those elastic legs of his, and the crowd were treated to some lovely rallies and reflex volleys at the net.


Twice Nadal broke for the lead, and twice he was pegged back immediately, pushing the pair into a tiebreak – won by Djokovic, and giving the crowd what they wanted – a deciding set.


Djokovic must have thought it was his time, breaking immediately and staying ahead until he missed the simplest of overhead put-aways by sliding into the net before the ball had bounced twice.


It really became a day for the rule-book as Nadal had no play on the ball and it had effectively bounced outside of the court lines when he made contact with the net.


In any case, it was not the first fudged overhead, and it certainly would not be the last as time and time again, Djokovic would send them crashing into the net, or spectacularly long.


Finding himself now serving from behind to stay in the match, there was another twist of drama as Djokovic asked to speak to the supervisor, after slipping several times on the dried out clay at the back of the court.


The final salt in the wound was a break to love, ending his pledge to win the French in memory of his first coach.


“I congratulate him, because that’s why he’s a champion.  That’s why he’s been ruling Roland Garros for many years, and for me it’s another year,” said Djokovic after the match.


“I managed to come back and start playing really, really well as the match was going on, but it wasn’t good enough.


“I lost the match after five hours.  I wanted this title so much, so I am disappointed.  That’s it.  You know, that’s the way I feel.”


Nadal, playing in his first five-set match since his return from a seven-month injury layoff was relieved to have made it through to another final.


“So happy the way that I played, and more than happy the way that I [fought] in the fifth set after losing big chance in the fourth.

“So that’s probably the most difficult thing to do it, and I did.”


David Ferrer

David Ferrer

David Ferrer def. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 7-6(3), 6-2


It is inevitable that people suggest that the Nadal/Djokovic match-up was the “final that should have been” and following it was the ‘blockbuster that never was.”


Jo-Wilfried Tsonga found himself carrying the hopes of a nation, looking to become the first French finalist since Henri Leconte in 1988.


David Ferrer was looking to reach his first slam final.


Certainly the crowd wanting to lift Tsonga as much as they could, roaring when he finally got a game on the board in a first set drubbing, and as he made things a lot more competitive in the second set.


For Tsonga it seemed a match of irritations – differences of opinion with the chair umpire over marks, some wild errors, and just overall inconsistency.


If there is one player that you can ill afford to have streaky patches against, it is David Ferrer, who just played solidly all the way around.


To fail to live up to a crowd’s, and even a nation’s expectations will have been a tough pill to take.


“Maybe in a few hours, few days, you know, I will say, Okay, it was a good tournament; I played well; I was in semis.


“But, yeah, today I’m just disappointed,” said Tsonga after the match.


For Ferrer, there is the prospect of facing his compatriot, who has owned him on clay all but one of the times they have met, (Stuttgart, 2004).


“I won once when we were kids.


“Then I also won on faster surfaces, but each match is different, anyway.


“So I need to focus on the now and I need to make the most of all my shots.”


Serena Williams to Meet Maria Sharapova for French Open Title

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

By Ros Satar

(June 6, 2013) PARIS – Victoria Azarenka’s burgeoning love affair with the clay came to a halt today, at the hands of Maria Sharapova 6-1, 2-6, 6-4.

In a three-setter interrupted by a brief wringing-out of a cloud, Sharapova did not have the best of starts.

It looked like she had left her first serve in the locker room, but had brought its best friend the double-fault out instead.

In truth, Azarenka did not have to do much except turn up for that first game, as Sharapova was broken to love.

But the situation did not last for long – it was clear that Sharapova had her eye in, quickly taking advantage of Azarenka’s errors, taking the first set in a little short of half an hour.

Azarenka managed to make a better fist of things, made all the easier when Sharapova gifted her the set with two consecutive double faults.

But the players also had to contend with a fidget-en-masse in the last game of the set as spots of rain fell, and the gentry in the expensive seats promptly allez-ed to afternoon tea at 15-0.

The crowd reactions also caused amusement – there was no doubt that the warmer applause was for the defending champion, but they were quick to whistle and boo (admittedly in the rain) as she challenged a point, and as the umpire had them on and off the chairs before finally taking them off.

The third set saw the errors that had been plaguing Azarenka in the first set return, although Sharapova made life hard for herself letting four match points go at 5-2.

There was no doubt at the second time of asking, thumping down an ace to finish it off.

Azarenka denied that Sharapova had cut off her rhythm or rushed her.

“There’s not much rhythm when we play each other.  We just try to, you know, take opportunity, whoever takes it first.”

Having joked in her last conference about her and clay moving in together, she was positive about her progress here this year.

“My game on clay got much better, and it’s just a matter of [the] whole process.

“Process started for me.  It unfortunately ended today in this tournament.

“But, you know, coming back next year there is so much to look forward to for me, and, you know, trying to figure it out and find it every year will be something that is going to motivate me to come back here.”

Sharapova was no doubt relieved to get the job after failing to take advantage of four match points.

“Despite having those two match points and not taking advantage of them, I was happy with the way it came out at 5‑4 and served it out.”

She will meet Serena Williams who demolished last year’s finalist Sara Errani for the loss of just one game, 6-0, 6-1 in 46 minutes.

As Errani picked up the vocal effort, the only sounds from Williams were the odd squeak as sent a ball flying long or wide.

And as the Italian finally got a game on the board, she raised her hands in triumph, as a gladiatrix might after facing down a lion.

But meal-time was quick to follow, with Williams finishing (as Sharapova had) with an ace.

When asked if playing her was soul-destroying at the moment, Williams allowed herself a smile.

“I would never say that.  Ever.

“But I just go out there and do the best that I can and that’s it. “

That being said there was no question of her giving up on any game, out of any sympathy.

“She’s a great girl.  I love her fighting spirit.  I really like her as a person.

“But when you go out there, you just have to play and forget about who you’re playing.”

Looking ahead to Saturday’s final, Sharapova had to face the inevitable question about her record against Williams, last beating her in 2004.

“Well, I’d be lying if it doesn’t bother me, obviously.  (Smiling.)

“But obviously she’s won so many matches already in a row on hard and clay, so I don’t think it really matters.

“You try to go out there and do something different, because whatever you have done just hasn’t performed well.

“I hope that I can.”

And Williams’ view of that record?

“It’s a different time, a different era, just a different match.

“But we have played a lot.  Just gotta do the best that I can.”


Djokovic and Nadal Cruise into Semifinal

Novak Djokovic practice China Open practice

Novak Djokovic

By Ros Satar

(June 5, 2013) PARIS – After the ups and down in the two women’s quarterfinals, not to mention the excitement after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s dispatch of Roger Federer, there were high hopes that the remaining two men’s quarterfinals would match them.


For Novak Djokovic, the progression was rapid, as he put paid to the last of the 8 men in last 16 to use a single-handed backhand.


The first set lasted only half an hour, with two breaks in quick succession to take the first set 6-3 over Tommy Haas.


Haas put up more of a battle in the second set, despite getting hardly points off the Djokovic serve, and had actually built up a 4-2 lead in the tiebreak, before finally losing the second set 76(5).


Nerves finally seemed to get to the Serbian, who failed to convert a match point on Haas’ serve, and then getting broken himself as he was serving for the match at 5-4.


Haas brought things back on terms at 5-5, but was broken for Djokovic to take another spin at serving out for the match,


This time he took no chances, closing out his place in the semi-final in a time just short of two-and-a-quarter hours.

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

He will face, defending champion Rafael Nadal who crushed Stanislas Wawrinka in a little under two hours, for the loss of just six games – 6-2, 6-3, 6-1.


Wawrinka found himself broken right at the start of the match, much like one of his racquets, with his obvious frustration showing.


In the second set, Nadal took an early lead, but this time Wawrinka was able to find a chink in his armor, breaking to get things back on serve.


Nadal’s response was to win the next three games and with it a two-set lead.


Wawrinka was all but done, as Nadal quickly built up a 5-0 lead, relenting enough to let the Swiss get one game on the board, before holding to love to sweep into the semi-final clash with Novak Djokovic.


Prior to the event, Djokovic was reluctant to discuss the draw, and dismissed questions about it ahead of the semifinal.


He said: “It’s not the first time I’m playing him.  We played over 30 times.

I’m sure that we know each other’s game really well.”


He continued: “As I said, we are in good form. This is the biggest matchup of our Roland Garros 2013 campaign for both me and him.”


Nadal has played himself into better form over the last three matches.


He said: “I’m happy the way that I played today especially.  [It] was my best match on the tournament without any doubt.


“Now I am in semifinals, three matches in a row without losing a set.  Last two matches I only lost one serve.”


Looking ahead to the semifinal, he echoed some of the guarded statements of Djokovic.


He said: “For me, it’s the semifinals, and doesn’t matter if it’s against Novak or against another player, because the player who not [going to] win the semifinals is not the champion of Roland Garros.


“He’s just the semifinalist.  That’s the big difference.”