French Open Day 11 matches to watch: Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic eye semis
Here are the matches to watch on Day 11 of the French Open. Play begins at 8 a.m. ET. Click here for the order of play.
Rafael Nadal vs. Stanislas Wawrinka (second match, Court Philippe Chatrier): Wawrinka rallied from two sets down to beat France's Richard Gasquet 6-7 (5), 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 8-6 in a high-level fourth-round match that lasted four hours and 15 minutes on Monday. "I don't want to think about my next [match]," Wawrinka said afterward. "Even if I know it's Rafa."
That's understandable. Wawrinka has never won a set in nine meetings with Nadal, going 0-for-19. The closest he came was in Toronto in 2010, when the Swiss No. 2 lost the first-set tiebreaker 14-12. Last month, Nadal cruised past Wawrinka 6-2, 6-4 to win the Madrid Open. So, yeah, between Wawrinka's potential weariness and his history against Nadal, pencil Rafa into the semifinals.
Here are highlights from their match in Madrid:
Novak Djokovic vs. Tommy Haas (second match, Court Suzanne Lenglen): Haas stunned Djokovic 6-2, 6-4 in the fourth round of the Sony Open in March. Djokovic came out flat and grew flustered by the blustery conditions on a chilly night in Key Biscayne, Fla. The Serb credited Haas for being the better player but also said this was "definitely the worst match I have played in a long time." It would take another sluggish performance from the world No. 1 to give the 35-year-old Haas a chance here.
Here are highlights from that match:
Here's an interview with Haas after he defeated Mikhail Youzhny to make his first French Open quarterfinal:
Maria Sharapova vs. Jelena Jankovic (first match, Court Philippe Chatrier): There are no secrets between these two players, who have been facing off for years dating to their time at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Sharapova leads 7-1, including a 6-2, 6-1 victory at the Sony Open this year, but this will be their first match on clay.
Despite Jankovic's retrieving skills, Sharapova has never had a problem hitting through her. I don't think the clay will change that. In the same way that Serena Williams gets up to take on Sharapova, the Russian revels in the opportunity to knock off Jankovic.
Here's video of Sharapova famously taking a swipe at Jankovic during a match against Victoria Azarenka at the 2009 China Open. When informed that Azarenka had taken a second medical timeout, Sharapova quipped, "Is her last name Jankovic?"
Victoria Azarenka vs. Maria Kirilenko (first match, Court Suzanne Lenglen): Can Kirilenko turn it around against Azarenka? The Russian has lost in straight sets in their last three matches after winning the first two meetings. They've never played on clay, and their only match since 2010 was Azarenka's 6-3, 6-4 victory in the bronze-medal match at the 2012 London Olympics.
Both players have good offensive instincts bolstered by mobility and the ability to get that extra ball back. As Azarenka has matured, her game has become more offensive -- a very positive development. The Australian Open champion is peaking at the right time, coming off a 6-3, 6-0 win over Francesca Schiavone in the quarterfinals. Kirilenko will need to shake off the glow of making her first French Open quarterfinal and be willing to play patiently against Azarenka, who can go off the rails if pressured consistently. The key here will be Kirilenko's serve. Azarenka is the best returner in the game behind Williams, and she'll break Kirilenko at will if the underdog doesn't nail her first serves.
Here's a look at Kirilenko's solid win over Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the fourth round. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZ9QLteQdE0