While all eyes are on the semi final between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, the bottom half of the draw sees what could be one of the matches of the tournament if both players perform to the same high level they have shown throughout the tournament. Seventh seed Stan Wawrinka will face home favourite and fourteenth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Check out the Tsonga vs Wawrinka Head to Head.
Losses for Tsonga to Marin Cilic, Marcel Granollers and David Goffin did little to inspire confidence coming into this tournament, one he made the semi finals of in 2013. However, the Frenchman has looked inspired after easing his way through the first three rounds. Tomas Berdych had little answer in the fourth round, only getting a look in due to Tsonga’s level dipping late in the third set and early in the fourth. Tsonga stopped the rot before it was too late in the fourth set finally taking the match 6-3 6-2 6-7 6-3.
His quarter final against Kei Nishikori showed a similar pattern with Tsonga dominant for the first two sets, only to fade as the finish line got closer. Nishikori looked to have turned a corner after saving break points at 4-4 in the third, breaking in the next game and pushing the match to a fifth set. Nishikori’s fifth set record has been well documented, losing just once at a slam prior to this match. Tsonga broke for a 3-1 and held onto it to make his second Roland Garros semi final.
After a shock loss in Geneva previously, Wawrinka had been going about his business quietly in week one, losing just one set on his way to the quarter finals. In the eagerly anticipated match between the Swiss No.1 and No.2, it turned out to be somewhat of a disappointment as a contest with Wawrinka playing some stunning tennis to win in straight sets against Roger Federer. It was a marked turnaround from Rome, where Federer won 4&2.
After losing in round one last year, Wawrinka is now favoured to make the final but will have to deal with a raucous crowd supporting a confident Tsonga. There always is the possibility that the occasion could get to Tsonga as seen in his last French Open semi final where David Ferrer comfortably beat him in straights – an anticlimax after his surprise win against Roger Federer in the previous round.
Five of the six meetings between the two have been played on clay with Wawrinka leading these 3-2. They went five in back-to-back years in 2011 and 2012, splitting the pair while Wawrinka also won a BO5 in Davis Cup action last year in four sets.
The serve could be vital here with Tsonga in particular not wanting to get into a slog after two lengthy matches. Both players have had plenty of free points, as they sit No.1 and No.2 in terms of first serve points at 81% each while Federer failed to break in a grand slam match for the first time in a long while. Wawrinka has been hitting the ball outstandingly with 43 winners overall in his last match.
It seems unlikely that we will get a classic five setter like their 2011 and 2012 meetings but an impressive display of attacking is sure to be on the cards. Question marks over Tsonga lasting the distance have to remain after twice almost throwing away extremely dominant leads. Wawrinka will be quick to latch onto any drop in Tsonga’s level if he finds himself behind.
Stanislas Wawrinka in four sets