2011 French Open – Nick’s Picks – Men’s Singles Semifinals

Roger Federer (SUI) vs. Novak Djokovic (SRB)

Federer grinded away against Gael Monfils, taking down the Frenchman in straight sets. He has yet to drop a set in the entire tournament and he has advanced to at least the semis six out of the last seven years. He has really picked up his play as of late and he looks as good as ever. He keeps saying that winning another major will change everything for him and there is no better time than now to make that happen!

Djokovic got the day off when Fognini pulled out due to an injury. He will have not played in four days when he takes the court against Federer, but I don’t think that will effect him. He has been in the zone the entire year and I think facing Roger in the semis of the French Open will be enough to motivate the Serb. There is no doubt that he has been the best player in 2011, but taking out Federer is never, ever an easy task.


Federer is 13-9 against Djokovic, but he has lost to him three times already in 2011. They have met three times on clay in their careers and Federer has won two of those matches. This is definitely the match of the tournament and the hype for it will be unbelievable, I certainly cannot wait! Let’s break down the match…

Forehand – Both players favor their forehands over their backhands and both will run around to hit more forehands. Federer can hit more outright winners, but Djokovic is more consistent and hits with more spin. Pretty even on this shot.

Backhand – Federer is more versatile with his backhand and probably has a better slice, but to me, right now, Djokovic’s backhand is the best in the business! It is a true weapon and their are no weaknesses.

Serve – This is a big key for the match. For Federer to have a chance to win, he must serve well because Djokovic is going to put a ton of pressure on it when returning. If I was Federer I would go for a higher first serve percentage to keep Djokovic pinned back. Djokovic’s serve is nothing to laugh at either and it is probably the reason why he is on the streak that he is. His serve has improved so much over the last year and it is a big time weapon.

Movement  - When Federer moves he glides around the court and he looks effortless. This is a big key to his game and he does it better than just about everybody. However, Djokovic’s movement is absolutely incredible right now. His lower body foundation and strength are remarkable and I have to give him a slight edge here.

Mentality – This is going to make a tremendous impact on this match. Federer knows that if he wins here, he is in good shape to win another major and that would be huge. Djokovic cannot let the streak effect his play and must continue to do what he has done all season: take care of business. Whoever can maintain their mental focus will have the upper edge in this match.

Nick’s Pick –I feel this match is going to boil down to Djokovic’s backhand vs. Federer’s backhand. If Federer’s backhand breaks down he will be in trouble and vice versa.

Wow! How can I pick a winner here? How can I pick against the man who hasn’t lost all year and at the same time, how can I pick against one of, if not, the greatest player of all time? I am going to let you make the call! Comment below with your pick and why they will win.

Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Andy Murray (GBR)

Nadal played his best match of the French Open in the quarterfinals, beating Robin Soderling in straight sets. This was a fantastic win against a player he has struggled with on clay in the past. To see Nadal play like this again, everyone better watch out! He is now two wins away from his sixth French Open title, which is simply amazing.

Murray has definitely flown under the radar throughout this tournament, but that ends now. He beat Juan Ignacio Chela in straight sets in the quarters to reach the semis of the French Open for the first time in his career. He hasn’t played his absolute best tennis, but he has played well in the big moments and has come up with the key shots and that is all that really matters.


Nadal is 10-4 against Murray and just beat him in Monte Carlo in three sets. In their three career clay-court meetings, Nadal has won all of them.  Let’s break down this match…

Movement  - I have no words that can fully describe Nadal’s movement. He can slide, recover, do this, do that. It is simply remarkable. It ranks among the very best of the best!

Murray is also one of the very best movers in the game and he may not look the quickest, but he moves deceptively well.

Forehand – Nadal uses an extreme western grip, which is very awkward, with the hitting hand totally under the racket handle. When using this grip, Nadal prefers to make contact with the ball from waist level up, the higher the ball, the more he can hurt you. Keep in mind, this grip produces a great deal of racket-head speed and also heavy spin. When the ball is low, Nadal will use his powerful lower foundation to get under the ball. Nadal also uses a compact circular backswing and on the forward swing he will extend his arm and racket away from his body. Yes, he will have plenty of racket-head speed, but his swing will not go around his opposite shoulder, it goes out and over ending up with the racket-head below his waist. He is able to turn his forehand into a weapon by hitting heavy balls cross-court while also flattening it out at times. I must also point out his cowboy-rodeo forehand follow-through with the racket ending up high above his hitting side. This shot is usually hit off a difficult ball that gets a little behind him.

Murray uses a strong eastern to very weak semi-westen grip on his forehand. He doesn’t generate the same racket-head speed that Nadal does and his balls are hit with moderate spin but with accuracy and consistency. His forehand is definitely not the weapon that Nadal’s is, but he is able to use it to put pressure on his opponents throughout every match. I would like to see him be more aggressive with his forehand when he has the opportunity.

Backhand - Because Nadal is actually right-handed, he uses his top-hand on his two-handed backhand to do the majority of the work. This makes his backhand a truly special shot. Keep in mind that he also has a darn good biting slice and he is very dangerous when he is off-balance or hitting on the run.

Murray’s backhand is as smooth as silk and he hardly ever misses. Again, I would like to see him be a bit more aggressive when he can, but it’s hard to argue with great results!

Serve – When a lefty serves, 99% of the time they have the advantage especially to the ad court. That is definitely the case with Nadal and he has really improved his serve over the last few years.

Murray’s serve is not huge, but he can place it to different positions and he will also pop a few aces when he needs them.

Nick’s Pick –This match will have long rallies which will favor Nadal, putting Murray on the defensive most of the time. Murray must realize his chances of winning crease if he stands closer to the baseline and comes up with some surprise attacks that Rafa doesn’t expect. Murray must go into this match with the mindset that he cannot waste any energy (especially with the bum ankle) and he must remain positive! There is no way I can pick against Nadal on clay. He is remarkable on the dirt and with Murray’s ankle injury, I definitely have to go with the Spaniard but this should be a great match!

I would love to hear how you think this match will go and who you pick!

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~ by Nick's Picks on May 31, 2011.

22 Responses to “2011 French Open – Nick’s Picks – Men’s Singles Semifinals”

  1. I am going with Djoko in 4 sets, he is just so great since last fall, but Roger with Roger it is never easy.

  2. Who do you think will win between Nadal and Soderling please

    • Gotta go with Nadal on the clay. I know he has lost to Soderling here before, but I can’t pick against him. Soderling will definitely give him a run for his money but the heavy spinning balls of Nadal should force Soderling back behind the baseline where he doesn’t want to be. The one key here is Nadal’s serve. If he doesn’t serve well, he will be in trouble, but if he does serve well he should be able to advance in three or four sets.

  3. I think Djokovic will win, but is should be an exciting match. As for Bartoli vs. Schiavone, I suspect the home-crowd advantage will help Bartoli, and I think she’ll squeak through, but I’m less sure about that one. Regardless, we’re definitely not headed for any snoozer matches! :)

  4. I would just jump on and would have said Fed in 3, as Fed is way way more experienced in grand slams than djokovic.. even in 2008 djokovic won against federer at the aussie open , people thought nadal fed dominance was over and they came back very easily.

    However, since djokovic is playing very good with great confidence, I would still say Fed in 4 or 5 sets.
    Lets break it:
    If Fed wins 1 or 2 sets, no chance for djokovic.
    If Djoko wins 1st, and fed 2nd, fed will take it.
    I do not see a possibility of djokovic taking it is straight sets.
    Playing against other players is a different thing, playing against fed and nadal is another thing… and playing against them in a 5 set match is above djoko’s level now with fed at this level.

    • Last two times Djoker played Fed in grand slams, he won. One was in 5 sets. They were on hard courts, though. Fed is 2-1 against Djokovic on clay courts, but they were in 06,08, and 09, and Djoker took the last one they played. Also, They never played in a best of 5 at Roland Garros so this can be interesting.

      BTW, they are 3-3 when playing against each other in grand slams in SF stage or later, and Novak’s losses were all at the US open
      Though, 4-3 to Fed because they played in the 4r in 2007 at AO. ALso, the only time they played each other in 5 sets, Djokovic won. So your reasons are invalid.

      With Djokovic’s confidence and supreme movement/groundstrokes, etc. I expect him to win regardless of how many sets they played.

      You can’t say the same thing for this 2011 as you do for Djokovic in 2008. Federer was still at his peak. He is now older, less motivated, and 0-3 against Djokovic in 2011, 0-2 AFTER the AO.

      • Hhahahha John Delanois .. djokovic will win huh??? you need to understand the meaning of EXPERIENCE MATE!!!!!
        Nadal will take it easy in the final.
        forget the stats, forget the head to head.

  5. Djokovic is probably taking this one. However this match can go otherwise if Federer can maintain his concentration and keep up backhand rallies. He’s dealing with the strongest backhand in the tour at the moment and he needs to comes up to the net more often.

    My pick: Djokovic in 5 sets, but I will support Federer for this one. Someone needs to stop that streak! It would be fun to watch how Federer plays tomorrow. I am pretty sure he have a plan in mind from his previous defeats that may make things difficult for Djokovic. This is a best of 5 sets match, which is also Roger’s forte.

  6. Tough one – Fed has gone through RG effortlessly but so did Djoker except for the little slip with delPo. I am going with Roger Federer since he seems more relaxed (Djoker is under pressure to become nr 1).

  7. Djokovic win in straight sets with at least a bagel.

    • Bagel set ! hahahhaha in your dreams .. against you for sure… Federer might grab bagel set instead with that nervous and arrogant djoker.

    • That prediction is a disgrace to one of the greatest champions of all time. While Novak is playing unbelievably so far in 2011 and has beat Federer several times, Roger should not be counted out. He always plays well in grand slams, and his form coming into this match is the best it has been in a long time. Maybe Djokovic will win, but Roger will give him a true fight. Look for him to take at least a set, and I can guarantee you that there will be NO bagels…

    • hahahaha bagel what???????????? what a fool!
      2 grand slam winner hitting bagel to 16 time winner??? hahahha your dreams not even dreams..

  8. I think federer will win in 4. I think djokovics run will come to an end. Roger is coming up on the blind side

  9. Federer in 5. LONG – HARD – SWEATY – GRINDY Match.

  10. I think Djokovic in straight, though tight sets. I wouldn’t be surprised if it went 4 sets, but I can’t see it going 5. Djokovic having so much time off worries me, so I can see a slow start from him, though I still see him taking the opening set like 7-5. He has been too strong mentally and physically this tournament, except for his set he lost to Del Potro in the third round (he definitely underperformed in that set, and I don’t see that happening in this match). As for the other match, I see Nadal in 4 sets. Murray looked very good against Nadal when they played on clay earlier this year, and even took a set. But Murray has been injured this tournament and his matches have been dramatic by his slow starts and his opponent’s chokes. If he had tougher competition in his quarter, he wouldn’t have been in the semis. With the time off, his injury will have less impact on the match, but I still think he will have a slow start. I expect Murray to win the 2nd or 3rd set, but not the first. I can’t see Nadal choking that away.

    Congratulations on being #1 if you win your semi, Novak :)

    • hahahahahah djokovic in what??????? huhahahaha you were saying????
      the confidence is gone.. the guy wont win slams for some years now..

  11. I believe everyone would day this one is a tough call, so why wouldn’t you take the odds with Federer at 225? Federer has never been overly strong on clay and received the favorite label at the French Open because of Nadal’s dominance. This has helped keep the pressure off him. The streak=pressure. Look at what every baseball player says about the damaggio streak when they get half way to 56. Novak has been incredible, but I believe the streak will end against Federer or in the final.

  12. Rare to find the top 4 seeds in the semis, and a real treat. Clearly anyone can beat anyone… even the indestructible Djokovic came within a couple points of losing to Murray in the leadup to the French. Really, this is anyone’s guess. I like Djokovic into the finals because I haven’t seen his level slip in a looooong time. I like Rafa to get through Murray although anticipate a tight match. I’m rooting for Nadal over Djokovic in the final, but predict Nole in 5 sets.

  13. As I predicted, federer punishes djokovic. it could have easily seen- federer’s form was prime. not lost a set…
    experince counts everyone…
    djokovic is uselessly proud and arrogant.. all was the confidence which helped him wim against nadal in finals atp 1000 and federer…
    now its gone and i dont see the poor young guy winning any slams for few years again…

    and for tomorrow.. it will be nadal… again EXPERIENCE AND SUITING GAME AGAINST FEDERER.
    may be 3 may be 4 but no more..
    NADAL reigns supreme again!
    NADAL-FEDERER era goes forward>>>>>>

    See the stats of fed -djoker game… notice the net points won .. federer 90, 100, 86% etc…. djoko 40, 36, etc…. there you go.. djoko won against nadal only because he approached net.. and when he faced a real fast player, he lost fair and square…
    couple of hicchups from fed.. obviously as he is old now.. but still he made the joker bite dust

  14. [...] reading here: 2011 French Open – Nick's Picks – Men's Singles Semifinals « Grand … This entry was posted in Australian Open, French Open, Tennis, US Open, Wimbledon and tagged [...]

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