No surprises – just “if only’s” and “should haves.”

6 Jun

Tsonga 2012 French Open Jo-Wi…. grr if only I put Novak away.

Wow – the mens draw at this year’s French Open has been chock a block full of exhilarating tennis – and for the average punter all seems to be just as you would expect. No surprises. The semis already confirmed will be another instalment of the Roger Federer versus Novak Djokovic rivalry. Could it be another epic a-la 2011 Roland Garros semi – the last Grand slam match Novak lost? – or the 2011 US Open semi – where Roger had 4 match points only to lose the match.

And also in the bottom half of the draw we are heading for a Rafael Nadal v Andy Murray / or David Ferrer semi. Also very predicatable – and in fact this half of the draw has been more or less untouched by surprises. Raphael Nadal plays compatriot Nicolas Almagro and Andy Murray takes on David Ferrer in the remaining 1/4 finals tonight. The only “wow” on this side of the draw has been the total eclipse of everyone in his path by Rafa. Rafa the clay court King has dropped only 19 games for the tournament – the best since Guillermo Vilas lost only 14 games in a blistering run to the 1977 quarter finals.

But what about the “if only – and the perhaps should haves”.

Just ask Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – 2 sets to one up against Novak Djokovic, and playing the match of his life. You need to remember Tsonga and Djokovic have a very legitimate rivalry in the true sense of the word. Going in to this match they were 5 wins apiece in their head to head record. Tsonga was playing near faultless tennis and racked up 4 match points in the 4th set. But –  somehow, Novak’s iron will again prevailed – he is so mentally strong and seems to be willing himself to the “Serbian Slam”.

Jo-Wi is left to sit and rue the opportunity that has passed him by. He is not alone. Andreas Seppi had Djokovic on the ropes and looking for the white towel in their 4th round encounter. Seppi led a hapless Nole 2 sets to love but could not strike the fatal blow. He went down in 5. Novak’s only comment – “I want to forget about that match and move on”.

Roger Federer too, has also had an unusually rocky road to the semi. He has been dropping sets to qualifiers, lucky losers and journeyman. And then he was staring at a 1/4 final defeat, 2 sets to love down at the hands of Juan Martin Del Potro – but Delpo ran out of petrol – and as the wise old sage Roger said in his presser – “this is a marathon, not a sprint”. We are at the “pointy” end. No more time for if’s, but’s and maybes, and you definitely don’t want to have a “I should have”. I’m sticking with Rafa – nothing seems to be standing in his way… but does Novak know that.


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