Federer and Novak Djokovic will go head to head for the 26th time in the French Open semi-finals on Friday and both agreed the outcome lay in the lap of the gods.

"/> Federer and Novak Djokovic will go head to head for the 26th time in the French Open semi-finals on Friday and both agreed the outcome lay in the lap of the gods.

" />
SHARE
COPY LINK

SPORT

Federer ready for fresh joust with Djokovic

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will go head to head for the 26th time in the French Open semi-finals on Friday and both agreed the outcome lay in the lap of the gods.

Federer ready for fresh joust with Djokovic
Vinod Divakaran (File)

At one stage in Tuesday’s quarter-finals at Roland Garros it looked like both were on their way out.

Federer was two sets to love down against Juan Martin del Potro and at the same time, Djokovic was being run ragged by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

But, in keeping with their superstar status, both men found a way back, winning in five sets in each case.

Federer leads their head-to-heads 14-11, but the recent outcomes between the two favour the Serb, the top seed in Paris who is bidding to become only the third man to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time, 43 years after Rod Laver achieved the fabulous feat for the second time.

Djokovic lost in four sets to Federer in last year’s French Open semi-finals, but that was his only defeat in their last six encounters, which notably included an epic five sets win in the semi-finals of the US Open in New York last September.

Djokovic, after saving four match points against Tsonga in a quarter-final thriller, said he knew what to expect.

“I don’t want to talk too much about Roger. We all know his quality and can always expect him to perform his best at this stage of the tournament,” he said.

“He came back from two sets down today. We both played tough matches in the last two rounds. Now we’re going to have two days off and expect an exciting semi-final.

“Last year we were part of a great match that went the distance, and he played incredibly well.

“I think for me it’s crucial to be very focused and aggressive from the first moment, because that’s something that you can always expect Roger to have, you know, that control over the opponent from the start.

“Now there is no real favorite for that match. It’s semi-finals, so everything is open.”

Federer, bidding for a record 17th Grand Slam title, sounded equally even-minded after his victory over Del Potro, which saw the Swiss star struggle for two sets before the tall Argentinian wilted physically.

“I know that I have to reach a level of 10 to play against him. So that’s all I can say. We’ll see,” he said.

“We’ll see how fit he is. I know I have to play a great match.”

Both men know that the winner in Friday’s semi-finals will likely face an even greater challenge in Sunday’s final should, as expected, six-times winner Rafael Nadal make it through.

Djokovic needed five setters in the fourth round and in the last eight to reach the semis, while Federer has lost five sets so far and looked uneasy in his fourth round match against Belgian lucky loser David Goffin.

In contrast, Nadal has roared into the semi-finals and has yet to drop a set.

Neither Djokovic nor Federer has ever beaten Nadal at Roland Garros, with the Spaniard now having a career record here of 49 wins and just the one loss, to Robin Söderling of Sweden in the fourth round in 2009.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

SPORT

IN PICTURES: Runners take on Swiss glacier race despite melt

Hundreds of runners braved a lung-busting ascent into the Alps in Switzerland's Glacier 3000 Run on Saturday, albeit on a shortened course due to summer heatwaves melting the ice.

IN PICTURES: Runners take on Swiss glacier race despite melt

The event’s 14th edition was back without limitations after being cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19 and run in 2021 with restrictions imposed due to the pandemic.

The race is normally run over 26.2 kilometres but was contested on a slightly modified 25.2km course this year due to the glacier melting, with the last pass over its surface shortened.

Runners make their way under a ski lift  on the glacier run in Switzerland

Runners make their way under a ski lift during the last kilometres of the Glacier 3000 run. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

“The accelerated melting of the top layer of the glacier has created a camber and a soft layer which the runner sinks into,” said race director Oliver Hermann.

“Rather than intervening to flatten the track, we preferred to deviate the course.”

Runners on last stretch of Switzerland's glacier run

On the final stretch of this year’s shortened course. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

The finish line is 1,886 metres higher than the start, at nearly 3,000 metres up in the mountains by the Scex Rouge peak.

READ ALSO: Heatwaves close off classic Swiss and Italian Alpine hiking routes

The route begins in the jet-set ski resort town of Gstaad, at 1,050 metres above sea level.

It passes through forests, green mountain pastures before heading into rocky lunar-like landscapes and taking in the Tsanfleuron Glacier.

The course follows the Saane river upstream for 15 km before climbing up 1,800 metres over the remaining 10 km to the finish line — at an altitude of 2,936 metres.

A couple hold their hands while walking on the melting Tsanfleuron Glacier above Les Diablerets

A couple hold hands while walking on the melting Tsanfleuron Glacier above Les Diablerets, where the Glacier 3000 Run took place on August 6th. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

Some 311 men and 98 women completed the individual course, while 50 two-person teams also took part.

READ ALSO: Why Switzerland’s glaciers are melting faster than usual this summer

The first man to finish was Kenyan competitor Geoffrey Ndungu in two hours and 17 minutes. He had finished in second place last year.

He was followed by compatriot Abraham Ebenyo Ekwam in 2:21 and then Switzerland’s Jonathan Schmid in 2:23.

Victoria Kreuzer was the first woman to finish, in 2:46, ahead of Nicole Schindler and Pascale Rebsamen — a Swiss clean sweep.

SHOW COMMENTS