We're now well into the second week of the French Open tournament at Roland Garros and it's quarter-final time as the top four seeds in the men's draw all look to avoid an upset.
Home favourite Jo Wilfried-Tsonga will be amongst the first in action as he takes on second seed and 2009 winner Roger Federer on the Phillipe Chartier court later today, in what is anticipated to be a keenly fought encounter.
Federer, 31, needed five sets to defeat Tsonga's countryman Gilles Simon on Sunday (6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3), while the sixth seed breezed past Viktor Trocki in straight sets, and the 28 year-old will now be setting his sights on a first ever French Open semi-final appearance.
The pair have plenty of history, with Tsonga having come from two sets down to win an epic five set quarter-final at Wimbledon two years ago. No doubt any neutrals in the crowd will be hoping for more of the same.
A rather attractive semi-final awaits for the victor against either of two Spaniard's: David Ferrer or Tommy Robredo and, without wishing to do either a diservice, you would expect the winner of the Federer v Tsonga match-up to also be lining up for the final come Sunday.
The all-Spanish tie also takes place today. Fourth seed Ferrer will go in as overwhelming favourite due to both his superior ranking - 28 places higher than his countryman - and the fact that Robredo has played 15 sets of tennis in his last three matches - becoming the first player since 1927 to come from two sets down to win three consecutive Grand Slam matches. Momentum is one thing, and clearly the 31 year-old will not give up without a fight, but exhaustion must be starting to kick in.
Ferrer is a talented player, who deserves his fourth seeding and World number five ranking, and he will rightly be expected to clinch a sixth career semi-final berth. Crucially however, the 31 year-old has never gone on to reach a Grand Slam final, and both Federer and Tsonga should be able to out-power him over a three to five set match.
Tomorrow, seven-time defending champion Rafael Nadal will be expected to make short work of Stanislas Wawrinka, who will likely have both fatigue and a hostile crowd to battle on top of the fearsome prospect of the number three seed, having come from behind yesterday to beat Richard Gasquet in five set, who by that point had been the only other remaining French presence in the draw.
Success for Nadal will open the door for a mouth-watering semi-final clash with World number one Novak Djokovic in a repeat of last year's final. The French Open is the only major trophy still missing from Djokovic's trophy cabinet, and he will no doubt be determined to reach a second successive Championship game.
If that match-up does occur, it will be hard to call a favourite. Nadal has the history and the pedigree at Roland Garros, but how much has his recent injury troubles taken out of his game? His progress through the early rounds has been steady, if not spectacular, while the Serb has been in a dominant mood. The crowd will perhaps favour the Spaniard, for whom a potential eighth French Open title would crown him the tournament's greatest ever player, but Djokovic is too a popular figure, and we'll command his own share of followers.
Rank outsider Tommy Haas stands in Djokovic's way in tomorrow's quarter-final. The story of the 35 year-old, a former World number two, is a romantic one - with retirement plans shelved in order to have one last crack at a Grand Slam title, but a quarter-final appearance is already a personal best for the German at Roland Garros, and you have to think that this will be one step too far for seven-time Grand Slam semi-finalist.
Nonetheless, Djokovic will be well aware of the threat Haas still carries, and will be unlikely to underestimate his well-travelled opponent.
The two semi-finals will take place on Thursday and Friday respectively while the final will be played on Sunday.
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