Men’s Semi Final

Jun 6, 2010

The men’s semi finals were another strange batch of matches. Mostly because although Rafa was there, Roger Federer wasn’t. Although many may have predicted a good tournament for both Nadal and Soderling – the two eventual finalists – the other semi-finalist competitors in the form of Tomas Berdych and Jurgen Melzer were definitely a surprise.

First up on the Philippe Chatrier court was Berdych and Soderling. Although Berdych had shown such form and ability all the way through the tournament, he was playing a man who in two consecutive years had upset both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer; hardly a sloppy run of form for any player. Robin Soderling certainly wanted to capitalise on his Federer win, and his ultimate win against the Czech indicates that this man definitely isn’t a one-match wonder. Still, Berdych wasn’t about to let Soderling trip into the finals easily. The first men’s semi-final in the baking heat of Paris was a five setter, lasting three hours 27 minutes. The similarity between the two players was obvious from the word go, with powerful serves and groundstrokes alike. Soderling took the first break 4-2 due to a few nervous unforced efforts from Berdych, and Soderling calmly took the first set.

The second set was a complete change in play; Soderling’s nerves began to get jittery and he double faulted at the worse possible moment. There were errors on both sides but Berdych hit 27 winners and 27 winners gets you far in a match. The rest of the match was very similar; scrappy, both players trying to work their game in the hot, dry conditions. The third set saw a complete loss of confidence and nerve from Soderling, and it wasn’t until later that Soderling started to look like he may be the potential winner. The fourth and fifth sets were powered out by Soderling with the superior experience of these high-pressure matches, and the scoreline eventually settled at 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3 6-3. Berdych was naturally disappointed, but he has had a fantastic run at this tournament and reached the semis without dropping a single set.

After the second semi final, Nadal will be itching to take revenge for being catapulted from the tournament last year by Soderling. His semi final match against Melzer took two hours and nine minutes, and the crowd were delighted by what appeared to be a last minute resurgence by Melzer. Could he push the King of Clay to 5 sets? Unfortunately, the last set tie-breaker just didn’t go Melzer’s way. Despite some mistakes from Nadal (including a double fault) in the last set and tie-break, he took it 7-6 (8-6). The Austrian put  up a fight but he just couldn’t get a comfortable game plan going against the lethal topspin, speed, and power of Nadal’s groundstrokes. As well as being in his first Grand Slam semi-final, Melzer had only won eight games in the last two meetings with Nadal. No-one had given Melzer the greatest odds and despite the crowd loving an underdog, the eventual scoreline was as expected: 6-2 6-3 7-6 (8-6). Nadal has still to drop a set going into the finals.

So the weather is supposed to be stormy in Paris tomorrow, and indeed storms lit up over many parts of France last night. Still, with all fingers crossed, play will go on. And if it does, many predict Soderling will find the conditions easier; he had a much better game in similar conditions against Federer than he did in his hot semi-final. And Nadal knows all about playing in the baking heat and needs that dryness for his topspin. We shall have to see how the weather affects the two men, because ir form and nerves of steel aren’t being utilised then the weather will be the least of their worries.

In a few hours time, Nadal will be able to get revenge on Soderling for next year, but I doubt he will see it like that. He will be itching to take back his French Open title, something that had been his for so long, and Soderling will be craving the trophy he came so close to having last year. Let’s hope the weather holds up for this exciting encounter.

- SophieG

Written by: SophieG

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