The long,leafy main walkway at Roland Garros separated Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic as they played simultaneous French Open matches in different stadiums Wednesday.
Now theyll go head to head.
Both advanced to Fridays semifinals with victories in straight sets,finishing less than 10 minutes apart. Nadal routed Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2,6-3,6-1,and shortly thereafter Djokovic eliminated 35-year-old Tommy Haas 6-3,7-6 (5),7-5.
So much for the preliminaries to set up a much-anticipated rematch of last years final,which Nadal won for a record seventh French Open title. Hes bidding to become first man to win eight titles at the same Grand Slam event.
Djokovic,ranked No. 1 and the winner of six Grand Slam titles,seeks the only major championship he has yet to win. With two more victories he would become the eighth man to complete a career Grand Slam.
The other semifinal matches Spaniard David Ferrer against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga,whos trying to become the first Frenchman in 30 years to win Roland Garros.
Advancing on the womens side were defending champion Maria Sharapova and two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka,and theyll meet Thursday. The other semifinal will match No. 1 Serena Williams against 2012 runner-up Sara Errani.
Nadal leads Djokovic 19-15 but lost their most recent meeting in the Monte Carlo final on clay in April. Nadal leads 6-3 in Grand Slam meetings.
Because Nadals ranking slipped during a seven-month layoff because of a knee injury,he and Djokovic wound up in the same half of the draw. As a result,theyll meet before the final at a major event for the first time since 2008. Both played near their top form in the quarterfinals.
Djokovic wore down Haas,winning 40 of his first 43 service points. Haas found himself on the verge of pulling even at 5-all in the tiebreaker,but Djokovic smacked a backhand winner to end a 24-stroke rally longest of the match and won the next point as well for a two-set lead.
Djokovic reached his 12th consecutive Grand Slam semifinal. He improved to 33-4 this year.
Nadal,seeded No. 3,turned in his finest performance of the tournament yet. After dropping the first set in each of the first two rounds,he has won 12 sets in a row,looking better and better at Roland Garros,where he now is 57-1. Nadal improved to 10-0 against Wawrinka and has won all 22 sets theyve played.
Sharapova needed a comeback unlike any other in her career to reach the semifinals,beating Jelena Jankovic,0-6,6-4,6-3. It was Sharapovas first win after losing an opening set 6-0.
The No. 2-seeded Sharapova earned her first French Open title a year ago to complete a career Grand Slam. She has won 12 matches in a row at Roland Garros,where her 42-9 record is the best among active women.
Obviously it only gets tougher from here, Sharapova said,but Im really happy Im at this stage again.
Shes 5-7 against No. 3 Azarenka,who reached her first Roland Garros semifinal by beating Maria Kirilenko 7-6 (3),6-2.
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