Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Sports

Djokovic, Nadal set up semi showdown

PARIS — The ease with which Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic won their French Open quarterfinals on Wednesday was similar.

Both won in straight sets. Both earned 12 break points, Nadal converting seven, Djokovic five. Nadal was broken once, Djokovic twice.

Nadal needed 1 hour, 56 minutes to beat No. 9-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1. Djokovic needed 2:13 to beat No. 12 Tommy Haas 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5. Now comes their showdown in Friday's semifinals.

Djokovic, ranked and seeded No. 1 and trying to become the eighth man to win a career Grand Slam, against Nadal, ranked No. 4, seeded No. 3 and trying to become the first man to win eight trophies at one major.

It's enough to render Friday's other semifinal something of an afterthought — even if local fans have a rooting interest when No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga faces No. 4 David Ferrer. Tsonga, who along with Ferrer won quarterfinals on Tuesday, can give France its first men's champion at Roland Garros since Yannick Noah 30 years ago.

While Ferrer and Tsonga will meet for only the fourth time, Djokovic and Nadal will meet for the 35th; the 10th at a major and fifth at Roland Garros.

Djokovic is 33-4 this year. Nadal is 41-2 since returning in February after missing seven months with a left knee injury. The absence is why Nadal was seeded No. 3 and drawn to play Djokovic in the semifinals.

"Over the years, he's been so consistent and so dominant, on this surface especially," Djokovic said. "He's … lost only a few matches since he came back. You've got to respect that."

After dropping the first set in his first two matches, Nadal has won 12 in a row.

"Obviously, I really am playing better," Nadal said. "I'm happy the way that I played (Wednesday) especially; was my best match of the tournament without any doubt."

Djokovic won their most recent encounter, the final at Monte Carlo on clay in April.

"That is something that can maybe give me that mental edge when I step onto the court," Djokovic said; "knowing I can do it even though not many players in the last 10 years have won against him on this surface."

On the women's side Maria Shara­pova won her first match ever when losing the first set 6-0, ousting No. 18 Jelena Jankovic, 0-6, 6-4, 6-3 to reach the semifinals.

Sharapova committed 20 unforced errors during the first set. But playing a third set for only the fourth time in 39 matches this year, she won the final four games.

"I still felt like I was in the match," Sharapova said of the first set. "It was certainly nice to change things around because I wasn't doing much in the first six games."

Sharapova faces No. 3 Victoria Azarenka today. Azarenka needed 76 minutes to win the first set then lost only six points in four service games in the second to beat No. 12 Maria Kirilenko 7-6 (7-3), 6-2.

It's the first French semifinal berth for Azarenka, who has had much more success on faster surfaces. Asked to describe her "relationship" with clay, she said, jokingly: "I still don't have any ring on my finger. But I feel like we made a step forward. We are moving in together."

Today's other semifinal is No. 1 Serena Williams against No. 5 Sara Errani. They won their quarterfinal matches Tuesday.

. Today

Women's semifinals

Serena Williams (1) vs. Sara Errani (5); Maria Sharapova (2) vs. Victoria Azarenka (3)

TV: 6 a.m., Tennis Channel (mixed doubles final); 9 a.m., ESPN2 (Sharapova-Azarenka); 11 a.m., Ch. 8 (Williams-Errani)

Comments
Rays call up top prospect Willy Adames – for now

Rays call up top prospect Willy Adames – for now

The Rays have called up top prospect INF Willy Adames – though likely for a short stay.INF Joey Wendle was placed on the paternity list Tuesday, which can last three days.Adames is likely to head back to Triple-A Durham when Wendle returns.Adam...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
For starters: Rays vs. Red Sox, with Faria on the mound

For starters: Rays vs. Red Sox, with Faria on the mound

UPDATE, 3:27: Here is the Rays lineup, would just called up top prospect Willy Adames:Robertson 2bCron 1bDuffy dhRamos cAdames ssField rfArroyo 3bRefsnyder lfSmith cfFaria pDEVELOPING: The Rays are back home after a long, eventful and ultimately succ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Photos: Bucs open OTA practices

Photos: Bucs open OTA practices

“We’d love to have everybody here,” said coach Dirk Koetter, who said he was unsure if Pierre-Paul or Grimes would practice before next month’s mandatory minicamp. “That’s the perfect world, but we don’t live...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Lightning squanders chance to close out Capitals

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Lightning squanders chance to close out Capitals

The Lightning misses an opportunity to close out the Capitals in Washington, so there will be a Game 7 in Tampa on Wednesday night with a berth in the Stanley Cup final on the line.Andrei Vasilevskiy was fantastic, but the Lightning couldn't match th...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Did ex-girlfriend’s Facebook post leak suspension of FSU starter Josh Ball?

Did ex-girlfriend’s Facebook post leak suspension of FSU starter Josh Ball?

A Florida State student from Lithia wrote a Facebook post Monday afternoon alleging the suspension of Seminoles starting offensive tackle Josh Ball.Little else was known a day later, but the details in the since-deleted post are consistent ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Jason Pierre-Paul, Brent Grimes absent as Bucs open OTA practices

Jason Pierre-Paul, Brent Grimes absent as Bucs open OTA practices

The Bucs started another chapter of their offseason Tuesday with the first OTA (organized team activity) practice at One Buc Place, with veterans Jason Pierre-Paul and Brent Grimes as the only healthy players absent from what is officially a voluntar...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Game 7 odds and ends as you wait for Lightning-Capitals on Wednesday

Game 7 odds and ends as you wait for Lightning-Capitals on Wednesday

For the 33rd time in NHL history, a Stanley Cup semifinal series is headed to a Game 7, where the home teams are 21-11.The Lightning and Capitals meet Wednesday night at Amalie Arena in a win-or-go home game to decide who plays Vegas in the Stanley C...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Intensity, preparation key to Calvary Christian LHP Nolan Hudi’s success

Intensity, preparation key to Calvary Christian LHP Nolan Hudi’s success

Nolan Hudi has made 26 starts for Calvary Christian and he has won 22 of them. His other four starts were no decisions.The Warriors have won 59 straight games entering Wednesday's Class 4A state semifinal against Jacksonville Trinity Christian. No ga...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Stanley Cup final schedule: Tampa Bay-Washington winner vs. Vegas

Stanley Cup final schedule: Tampa Bay-Washington winner vs. Vegas

Here's the schedule for the Stanley Cup final, which starts Monday — in Tampa Bay if the Lightning wins Wednesday and in Vegas if it doesn't:Lightning-Capitals winner vs. Golden Knights(All games on NBC at 8 p.m. ET)Monday, May 28Wednesday, May...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Gators, USF announce 3-game football series

Gators, USF announce 3-game football series

In what constitutes a re-affirmation of USF coach Charlie Strong's desire to take on all-comers, the Bulls and the University of Florida have announced a three-game football series beginning in 2022.The Bulls and Gators, who have played only once pre...
Updated: 5 hours ago