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Beyond the Baseline

French Open Day 11 recap: Semifinals are set at Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal dropped his first set of the French Open against David Ferrer. (Dan Istitene/Getty Images) Rafael Nadal dropped his first set of the French Open against David Ferrer. (Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

PARIS -- We're down to the last four men and four women at the French Open. Both women's matches on Wednesday were routs: No. 4 Simona Halep rolled past No. 27 Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-2, and No. 28 Andrea Petkovic upset No. 10 Sara Errani 6-2, 6-2. Halep and Petkovic will meet on Thursday in the first Grand Slam semifinal for both players.

On the men's side, No. 1 Rafael Nadal overcame a slow start to defeat No. 5 David Ferrer 4-6, 6-4, 6-0, 6-1 in a rematch of the 2013 French Open final. On Friday, the eight-time champion will play No. 7 Andy Murray, who got past No. 23 Gael Monfils of France 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 1-6, 6-0 in a match filled with momentum shifts.

Here's a closer look at Day 11:

What happened

Nadal and Murray fight off the darkness -- and their opponents -- to advance: Nadal and Murray hadn't played each other since 2011 before meeting two weeks ago in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open. Now they'll clash again in the French Open semifinals. Nadal had the more straightforward day, rebounding from a first-set loss to win 18 of the last 23 games against Ferrer.

As for Murray, everyone is still scratching their heads after his five-set win over Monfils. The Chatrier crowd greeted Murray with a chorus of boos, and he silenced them by completely outplaying Monfils for the first two sets. But the Frenchman mounted a charge in the third and broke Murray to take the set. As questions flew over whether the two would be able to finish before the sun set, Monfils took the fourth set in a mere 30 minutes. Murray appeared down for the count, as his legs looked heavy and Monfils was playing inspired, aggressive tennis. But a cheap break early in the fifth set was all Murray needed to get back on track, and he raced to a 6-0 victory in just 24 minutes.

"The way that he played the last three or four games, for me it was unexpected, because his level in the third and fourth sets was extremely high," Murray said of Monfils' fifth-set performance. "He made very few mistakes. But that's the thing about five‑set matches: You need to do it for longer than two sets. Obviously, once I got up in the fifth set, his level dropped a lot."

WERTHEIM: Robin Soderling, currently the only man to beat Rafael Nadal at French Open, pondering return

Halep cruises to another career first: The No. 4 seed had no problems dispatching Kuznetsova, the 2009 champion, to make her first semifinal in Paris. After a 2½-hour rain delay, Halep came out firing and took an aggressive stance against the more defensive Russian.

"It was a perfect day, and I cannot say anything more," Halep said. "Maybe it wasn't her best day, but for me it was the best. I'm really happy that I could play my game and to win, because she's a great player."

NGUYEN: Previewing the women's semifinals at the French Open

Petkovic is the feel-good story of the tournament: Down and out a year ago and contemplating a career as a writer, she stuck with tennis and has put together a season of milestones. She won her biggest title at the Family Circle Cup in April and now is into her first major semifinal after defeating Errani, the 2012 finalist and '13 semifinalist.

After winning Charleston, Petkovic's clay season had been a wash until now. She lost to Errani in the first round of the Madrid Open, to Serena Williams in the second round of the Italian Open and to Moncia Puig in the quarterfinals of the Strasbourg International. The 26-year-old German didn't anticipate a deep run here.

"I never felt I'd be here in the semis, and that is what makes me really happy," she said. "Just gives me confidence that everything comes back if you stay patient and don't lose your head. [That's] what would have happened two or three years ago if I would have lost as many early matches as I did in the clay-court season after Charleston."

Photo of the day

Rafael Nadal dropped only one game in the last two sets against David Ferrer. (Michel Spingler/AP) Rafael Nadal dropped only one game in the last two sets against David Ferrer. (Michel Spingler/AP)

Smooch of the day

andrea-petkovic-6

"I never kissed my racket before in my life. I don't know what happened to me. I was just overwhelmed by emotion. I had no boy to kiss, so I kissed my racket," Petkovic said. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Video of the day

Some thoughts from Petkovic after her win:

[embed]http://youtu.be/H_FdeeDheKY[/embed]

Tweets of the day

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