Roland Garros: 5 things we learned on Day 13 - garçons on song with uber Barbora
Question: What's the best way to guarantee a home-grown winner of a title? Answer: Have all the semi-finalists from France. That's what' has happened in the boy's singles competition. And Barbora was back in town. As for the men? Something old and something new.
It was an all-French affair in the boy's singles. Arthur Fils got past his doubles partner Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 to reach the final. And the 16-year-old, who reached the second round in the main draw, will play his compatriot Luca Van Assche in the final. Van Assche, the 13th seed, beat the ninth seed Sean Cuenin. If Mpetshi Perricard had any hard feelings, he had to put them aside as he later went back on court with Fils to face Petr Nesterov and Viacheslav Bielinskyi in the boys' doubles semi-finals. They won that in straight sets. It will be the first all-French boy's singles final at Roland Garros since 2002 when Richard Gasquet defeated Laurent Recouderc.
Nineteen hours after winning her three-hour semi-final epic against Maria Sakkari, Barbora Krejcikova was back on court to play with her Czech compatriot Katarina Siniakova against Bernarda Pera and Magda Linette in the semi-finals of the women's doubles. The Czechs, seeded second, won 6-1, 6-2 in 71 minutes. They will play the 14th seeded pair Iga Swiatek and Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the final. Krejcikova, who is unseeded in the singles, will thus be relatively fresh for her first Grand Slam singles final against the 31st seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Day 14. The 25-year-old is bidding to become the first woman since Mary Pierce in 2000 to triumph in both categories.
The semi-final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal was their 58th meeting. Djokovic, 34, went into the clash leading the head-to-head 29-28. He hadn't beaten Nadal at Roland Garros since the 2015 quarter-final. It's now 30-28 after a four hour and 11 minute semi-final which will be shown on the highlights reel for a very long time. More importantly for the Serb, he's in the final where he'll play Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, who was contesting his third semi-final at a Grand Slam tournament, reached his first final after an enthralling meeting. Tsitsipas was all over Zverev for the first two sets but then seemed to run out of ideas and oomph. Almost as if he was saying to himself: "I can never get past a Grand Slam semi-final." But the Greek rallied in the fifth set and held his nerve to win the decider 6-3. He will play Mr Djokovic who is seeking a 19th major.
Feeding the 5,000: it's a vote winner, non?
The organisers must have known all along. The first semi-final was scheduled for around 3pm. It took three hours and 37 minutes and ended at about 6.40pm. Then there was the post-match interview with Stefanos Tsitsipas followed by a short memorial to a former French number two who died recently. In view of the 11pm government curfew, there didn't seem to be any rush to get the semi-final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic started. Odd really as this match had five set four hour classic written all over it. Eventually it got underway at 7.10pm. And just after the third set ended at 10.35pm, an announcement over the public address system informed the 5,000 spectators that they had been given special permission to stay and watch the unfurling epic until the end. Unalloyed joy, roars and cheers filled the balmy night air. And then they clapped as they sang: "Merci, Macron. Merci, Macron, Merci, Merci, Merci, Macron." After that catchy paen to le president, only one thing remained. La Marseillaise. Ooh la la.
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