The top four seeds are still standing in the men’s tournament at the 2019 French Open after five rounds of play on the clay courts of Roland Garros in Paris.
Rafael Nadal, the event’s record holder with 11 titles, is joined in Friday’s semifinals by Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem. Djokovic is attempting to complete the second wraparound Grand Slam of his career, previously accomplishing the feat in 2015-16.
Let’s check out all of the important details for the penultimate round at the season’s second major. That’s followed by a preview and prediction for both high-profile matches.
Men’s Semifinal Schedule
Start Time: 6:50 a.m. ET
First Match: (2) Rafael Nadal vs. (3) Roger Federer
Second Match: (1) Novak Djokovic vs. (4) Dominic Thiem
U.S. Viewing Information
TV: Tennis Channel and NBCSN
Live Stream: Tennis Channel Everywhere and NBC Sports Live
Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer
Two of the greatest players in tennis history are set to meet for the 39th time in their ATP Tour careers.
Nadal holds a sizable 23-15 edge overall, but Federer has emerged victorious in their last five meetings dating back to 2015. Rafa’s last triumph came in the 2014 Australian Open.
The 33-year-old Spaniard has never lost to Federer at Roland Garros (5-0), however, and last lost to his longtime friendly rival on clay in the 2009 Madrid Masters.
“I’m very happy to play Rafa, because if you want to do or achieve something on the clay, inevitably, at some stage, you will go through Rafa, because he’s that strong and he will be there,” Federer told reporters. “I knew that when I signed up for the clay that hopefully that’s gonna happen. If I would have had a different mindset to avoid him, then I should not have played the clay.”
Although the head-to-head numbers on clay are a bit skewed since the 37-year-old Swiss legend skipped the last three clay-court seasons, Nadal is still the clear favorite in Friday’s matchup. He’s listed with definitive -750 betting-line odds, per Caesars Race & Sports Book.
That said, it’s impossible to discount Federer despite his counterpart’s dominance. He’s showcased elite form of his own by reaching the semifinals while dropping a single set.
It sets the stage for what could become another instant classic.
Pick: Nadal in five sets
Novak Djokovic vs. Dominic Thiem
Djokovic and Thiem don’t have the history of Nadal and Federer, but they are meeting for the ninth time. The 15-time Grand Slam singles champions holds the 6-2 edge, but they’ve split two French Open clashes.
Even Djokovic couldn’t downplay his level of performance in a straight-sets destruction of No. 5 seed Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals, during which he looked like a legitimate threat to Rafa’s throne.
“I played five or six games perfectly. I started hitting the ball a bit more cleanly. It’s good to finish today after the rain yesterday,” he said. “It’s important to focus on the present moment without thinking about the next day. I’m in the semifinals and I’m very happy with that. I hope I will continue to play well.”
Thiem has also found his footing after a sluggish start to the event that included dropping a set in each of his first three matches.
The semifinal foes previously faced off in the Madrid Masters semis last month. While Djokovic advanced in straights, both sets required a tiebreak in the hard-fought encounter.
Expect a similar closely contested win by the Serbian superstar Friday.
Pick: Djokovic in four sets