David Ferrer has not lost a set en route to the French Open final. (Julian Finney/Getty Images)
For the first time since 2002, the men's final at the French Open will be an all-Spanish affair.
Fourth-seeded David Ferrer rolled past sixth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 7-6(3), 6-2 on Friday to advance to his first Grand Slam final. Ferrer will face seven-time champion Rafael Nadal in Sunday's final.
Tsonga, who defeated Roger Federer in straight sets in the quarterfinals, was sluggish throughout the match and could do little to raise his game in the face of Ferrer's relentless consistency. The Frenchman finished with 55 unforced errors to 31 winners. Ferrer played a much cleaner match, hitting 24 winners to 21 unforced errors.
Game-by-game analysis of Ferrer-Tsonga after the jump.
2:22 p.m. ET | Ferrer defeats Tsonga, 6-1, 7-6 (3), 6-2.
Ferrer is a game away from the finish line. Many have said that Ferrer just needed the draw to break for him -- i.e., not forced him to play one of the Big 3 before the final -- in order for him to finally break through. Credit to him for finding himself at the peak of his career at 31-years old. He may not be the most dynamic or electric player on tour, but the respect he has in the locker room is second to none.
Serving to stay in the match, Tsonga builds a 40-0 lead only to lose the next four points to give Ferrer his first match point. The Spanish Terrier needs only one, as he sends a heavy forehand down the line and Tsonga sends a sliding forehand reply long. Ferrer falls to the ground in celebration.
"This is tennis' version of a lifetime achievement award," says Ted Robinson. There's something to that for Ferrer.
As for Tsonga? He leaves the court with little applause and a few audible boos and whistles. You be you, France.
2:08 p.m. ET | Ferrer breaks, 4-1*.
Ivan Ljubicic, who has just been officially announced as Milos Raonic's new coach, weighs in here:
I don't know. I think Rafael Nadal and his 19-4 record over Ferrer will take care of itself. Ferrer's adamant proclamations that Nadal is straight up better than he is don't exactly give you confidence that would be a contest.
Ferrer breaks and this one looks dead and dusted. There's no mincing words: this was a flat-out horrible showing from Tsonga who just doesn't look like he really wants to be out there. He took the court in a winnable match for a shot at his first French Open final with a crowd ready to back him,and hasn't given them anything to cheer for.
I guess beating Roger Federer in straight sets really takes everything out of you.
2:00 p.m. ET | Ferrer holds, 2-1*.
Tsonga gets eye-drops from the trainer before the third set. (Screengrab from NBCSports.com)
One thing you cannot give Ferrer is free points. Tsonga has hit 40 unforced errors through two sets, to just 26 winners. Ferrer is, not surprisingly, playing things very tight (in a good way) hitting 20 winners to 19 unforced errors.
But the most surprising statistic so far is how difficult Tsonga has found his service games. He's serving at 58 percent and winning just 60 percent of those. Meanwhile, he can't seem to make Ferrer pay on second serves, as Ferrer's enjoying a 66 percent success rate. It's not like Ferrer serves bombs. That Tsonga can't attack that serve at all is trouble.
Both men under some pressure in their first service games but they trade holds. But the crowd is flat, Tsonga's sluggish, and Ferrer is Ferrer. Tsonga isn't working to move to the ball, playing a lot of defensive slices instead of exploding into position to crack a backhand. Ferrer is content to just tee off on the short balls he's getting back.
Well he's just a set away from leaving Tiger Tim in the dust.
1:47 p.m. ET | Ferrer wins the tiebreak 7-3, leads 6-1, 7-6 (3)
Ferrer leads, 4-0: Tsonga just throwing in errors.
Ferrer leads, 4-1: Tsonga gets on the board with a service winner.
Ferrer leads, 5-1: Tsonga shanks a ball long.
Ferrer leads, 6-1: Another forehand long from Tsonga. "This is seriously depressing for Tsonga and the fans," says McEnroe.
Ferrer leads, 6-2: Ferrer nets a return.
Ferrer leads 6-3: Ferrer goes for the winner but sends a backhand down the line long. Could this tiebreak be turning?
Ferrer wins the tiebreak 6-3: Nope. Ferrer wins it on a dropshot.
How do you say "ruh roh" in French? Tsonga led 3-0, 30-0 in that set and lost it. Mon dieu!
1:42 p.m. ET | Ferrer holds, tied at 6-6.
Ferrer is going to want to stay away from that Tsonga forehand. That shot is running hot and cold from game to game, but it's still his biggest weapon. Tsonga earns a break point but sends a backhand return long.
I don't know why this year seems to be one marred by controversy regarding ball marks. Having players use their iPhones to take pictures of them probably doesn't help, but it seems that this year has seen more instances of players disputing the actual read on a ball mark more than any other I've seen. Both Ferrer and Tsonga are making umpire James Keothavong climb in and out of his chair more often than he'd like.
Tsonga disputes umpire James Keothavong's reading of a mark. (Screengrab from NBC.com)
Tsonga's footwork has been pretty bad throughout the match, but he plays his best point of the match down set point, an 11-shot rally that has him racing all over the court playing defense. He wins it with a backhand that Ferrer volleys into the net.
He finds himself down another break point and saves that with a sharp inside-out forehand and gets to game point with a strong serve-forehand combination, his 10th forehand winner of the set. He holds.
1:23 p.m. ET | Tsonga breaks, leads at 5-4*.
Tsonga comes out of the changeover and gets things back on serve, breaking Ferrer with ease. He's got the firepower to win this match but he has to get more easy points from his first serve (he's serving at 54 percent) and clean up his errors, which is more a footwork issue than timing.
Tsonga holds and Ferrer will serve to stay in the set.
Tsonga is trying to become the first Frenchman to make the final in 25 years. (Michel Euler/AP)
1:17 p.m. ET | Ferrer breaks, leads *4-3.
Ferrer gets on the board but Tsonga's forehand has gone from mush to lightning. He's blistering it now especially when he needs to go down the line. Sensing the Tsonga's confidence, Ferrer sends some slices back and sure enough, Tsonga can't get a clean hit. Ferrer breaks back and we're back on serve.
"You don't work hard on your fitness and then not use it at this point." That's John McEnroe admonishing Tsonga for his lazy footwork. J-Mac actually sounds personally offended. Ferrer holds.
Shadows have now started to creep over Chatrier. Ted Robinson points out that this is Ferrer's first match of the tournament on Chatrier. He definitely looks like the more comfortable guy out there. He's now won four straight games as Tsonga throws in a double-fault on break point. He's playing like the he's got the weight of a nation on his shoulders. Which...he does.
12:59 p.m. ET | Tsonga breaks, leads 3-0*.
Tsonga has a lead for the first time in the match as he starts the set with a hold and he's looking more comfortable now. It must be difficult mentally for players to get themselves to the place where they can convince themselves that it doesn't matter if you won a set 6-0 or 7-6. In the end you're just up 1-0. Amnesia is Tsonga's best friend right now.
Sure enough, Tsonga is really hitting through his forehand now. Maybe he just needed 30 minutes to work up a sweat and get into the match. He breaks Ferrer with ease and he's brought his winner count up to 10 for the match. He holds and has a 3-0 lead. He's won 12 of the 15 points in this set so far.
David Ferrer gets playful with a puppy in Melbourne in 2012. (Getty Images)
12:50 p.m. ET | Ferrer wins the first set, 6-1.
Tsonga saves two set points, the second with an ace. The hometown crowd responds with tepid applause. He narrowly dodges a bagel set when Ferrer just misses on a forehand down the line on set point. Two points later, the Frenchman is finally on the board. Maybe that will get him going in the second set. Ferrer holds at 15 and pockets the set in a 33 minutes.
With that, please enjoy this picture of David Ferrer and a puppy.
12:43 p.m. ET | Ferrer leads 5-0*.
On Twitter, Adidas coach Sven Groeneveld says Tsonga is struggling with his strokes because the wind is at his back on the near-side. It's crucial that he holds now that he's serving from the far end and hitting into the wind. He needs to prove to the French crowd that he can do this, he believes he can do it, and they should believe he can do it, too. Right now the crowd is completely flat, understandable considering many of them are probably still recovering from the first semifinal between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, which ended 9-7 in the fifth.
Nope. No hold for Jo. He's broken again. Could we get a bagel set in a semifinal for the second day in a row?
Tsonga finally plays a good point at 30-0 on Ferrer's serve. The crowd responds by chanting his name. See? Give them a reason and they will turn this into a Davis Cup atmosphere. Otherwise they'll just keep eating their baguettes.
I assume Eric's tweet in in reference to some discussion about Ferrer, who unlike Tsonga, has never made a Slam final. I would say the whole "deserves to have a Slam" discussion has a purpose when you're talking about players who seem to consistently stumble due to bad luck. But the fact is, Ferrer's never proven himself good enough to win a Slam. How do we know this? When's the last time you remember Ferrer having a big win over a top player at a Slam?
And no, an injured Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open does not count.
12:29 p.m. ET | Ferrer breaks, leads 3-0*.
It couldn't have been easy to sit around for four-and-a-half hours to wait out the first semifinal, so it's not that surprising that the more dynamic player, Tsonga, might need a bit of time get his blood flowing and his head into the match. I mean, you know Ferrer was probably running wind sprints in the parking lot while he waited that match out.
The conditions seem to be more windy now than in the first semifinal. The ball is flying off Tsonga's racket. He's already hit seven unforced errors in three games. It looks like he's just trying to spin the ball in to find a rhythm but he might be better off just taking some cuts to loosen up. The Frenchman is down 0-3 early.
No. 4 David Ferrer and No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will meet in the semifinals of the French Open on Friday. The match will follow the semifinal between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, which is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. ET.
Neither Ferrer nor Tsonga has lost a set in his first five matches of the tournament. Ferrer has steamrolled the two seeded players he's faced, blasting No. 23 Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-1, 6-1 in the fourth round and No. 32 Tommy Robredo 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 in the quarterfinals. Tsonga was impressive in dispatching No. 2 Roger Federer 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 in the quarterfinals.
Ferrer has won two of three meetings against Tsonga, including at the 2010 Italian Open in their only clay-court match. Tsonga beat Ferrer in straight sets at Wimbledon in 2011.
Tsonga will have plenty of support from the crowd as he seeks to move a step closer to becoming the first Frenchman to win this title since Yannick Noah in 1983.