Roland Garros: 5 things we learned on Day 12 -The men are so samey
Thirtysomething troika Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic - 52 Grand Slams between them - are joined in the last four by the relative sapling Dominic Thiem while all four women will contest their first French Open semi.
It really is open
Guy Forget, the tournament director, told the daily review on the eve of the 2019 French Open that it was difficult to predict the women’s tournament. And he was right. The semi-finals will consist of Ashleigh Barty v Amanda Anisimova and Johanna Konta v Marketa Vondrousova. Only Konta has been in the last four of a Grand Slam tournament and that was at Wimbledon. Anisimova and Vondrousova are still in their teens.
Ashleigh Barty does at least have some form. The 23-year-old reached the last eight at the Australian Open in January. She was refreshingly blunt when asked if she was the favourite as she is the highest seed remaining. “Not necessarily, no,” she replied. “All four of us have been playing great tennis but it's a new situation for me.”
Time for Thiem titan
Dominc Thiem lost in last year’s final to Rafael Nadal. On Day 12, the 25-year-old Austrian reached the semi-final for the fourth consecutive year following a straight sets win over Karen Khachanov, the 10th seed from Russia. Thiem next plays the top seed Novak Djokovic. The 32-year-old Serb has won three of their five meetings on clay. With Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the other semi-final, pity, then a young man’s lament. “It’s incredibly difficult to win a Grand Slam especially for us players who didn't have one yet,” said Thiem. “Because we have to beat two players with 15 or more Grand Slams.” Time to trailblaze then.
It seemed a tussle was upon us. Alexander Zverev served for the first set against the top seed Novak Djokovic at 5-4. But we were well wrong. Zverev lost his serve to allow Djokovic back into the set at 5-5. Zverev then drooped in the next five games to lose the opener and go a break down in the second. From potential ascendancy to despondency. The 22-year-old German looked ever so forlorn as the Serb took the second 6-2 and he was essentially a mobile mausoleum in the third.
My how they cheered when the unseeded French pair Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin edged closer to victory in their men's doubles semi-final against the third seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah from Colombia. “Allez les bleus” was the chant. They didn’t break out into the Marseillaise after Chardy and Martin secured the match 7-5, 6-4. But it was close. “We started playing tennis when we were eight-years-old,” said 32-year-old Chardy. “And it’s just fabulous to be playing on centre court at Roland Garros with your best friend.” You don’t need the Marseillaise after that tug at the heartstrings. The pair came into the French Open on the back triumphs in Marseille and Estoril. They knocked out the top seeds Marcelo Melo and Lukasz Kubot in the last 16 and will face the German duo Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies in the final. There’ll be absolutely no nationalist overtones in that one.